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Niagara, Always and Forever




By Abraham Lincoln


But still there is more.

Niagara calls up the indefinite past.

When Columbus first sought this continent—

when Christ suffered on the cross—

when Moses led Israel through the Red-Sea—

nay, even when Adam first came

from the hand of his Maker—

then as now, Niagara was roaring here.

The eyes of that species of extinct giants,

whose bones filled the mounds of America,

have gazed on Niagara, as ours do now.

Contemporary with the whole race of men,

and older than the first man, Niagara is strong,

and fresh to-day as ten thousand years ago.

The Mammoth and Mastodon—

now so long dead, that fragments

of their monstrous bones, alone testify,

that they ever lived, have gazed on Niagara.

In that long—long time,

never still for a single moment.

Never dried, never froze,

never slept, never rested,

There, Lincoln deliberately stopped--leaving Niagara,

American natural wonder, hanging, as his spirit hovers

over Americans.


[Passage from Lincoln's essay on Niagara Falls, 1848. Lined as a poem by David Madden, Louisiana Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.]