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Poem by Vachel Lindsay


Niagara


I

Within the town of Buffalo
Are prosy men with leaden eyes.
Like ants they worry to and fro,
(Important men, in Buffalo.)
But only twenty miles away
A deathless glory is at play:
Niagara, Niagara.

The women buy their lace and cry: Ч
"O such a delicate design,"
And over ostrich feathers sigh,
By counters there, in Buffalo.
The children haunt the trinket shops,
They buy false-faces, bells, and tops,
Forgetting great Niagara.

Within the town of Buffalo
Are stores with garnets, sapphires, pearls,
Rubies, emeralds aglow, Ч
Opal chains in Buffalo,
Cherished symbols of success.
They value not your rainbow dress: Ч
Niagara, Niagara.

The shaggy meaning of her name
This Buffalo, this recreant town,
Sharps and lawyers prune and tame:
Few pioneers in Buffalo;
Except young lovers flushed and fleet
And winds hallooing down the street:
"Niagara, Niagara."

The journalists are sick of ink:
Boy prodigals are lost in wine,
By night where white and red lights blink,
The eyes of Death, in Buffalo.
And only twenty miles away
Are starlit rocks and healing spray: Ч
Niagara, Niagara.

Above the town a tiny bird,
A shining speck at sleepy dawn,
Forgets the ant-hill so absurd,
This self-important Buffalo.
Descending twenty miles away
He bathes his wings at break of day Ч
Niagara, Niagara.

II

What marching men of Buffalo
Flood the streets in rash crusade?
Fools-to-free-the-world, they go,
Primeval hearts from Buffalo.
Red cataracts of France today
Awake, three thousand miles away
An echo of Niagara,
The cataract Niagara.



Vachel Lindsay

Poem Themes: Rivers, Niagara

Vachel Lindsay's other poems:
  1. What the Sexton Said
  2. Sweet Briars of the Stairways
  3. The Leaden-Eyed
  4. The Booker Washington Trilogy
  5. With a Bouquet of Twelve Roses


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Adelaide Crapsey Niagara ("How frail")
  • Joseph Drake Niagara ("Roar, raging torrent! and thou, mighty river")
  • Emily Pfeiffer Niagara ("ALMIGHTY voice that callest me from sleep")
  • Lydia Sigourney Niagara ("FLOW on for ever, in thy glorious robe")
  • Thomas Appleton Niagara ("THOUGH the dusk has extinguished the green")

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