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  • By Daniel Leach

Father Hennepin and the Great Spirit

Niagra (1865) - Edwin Church

This concludes a third in the series of poems, based on the poet's journey to Niagara Falls. Read parts 1 & 2 & 3 here.

Father Hennepin stood on the bank of the river

That rushes in torrents beside the peace of the forest,

Beside him, the Indian guide stood looking in silence

Beyond the next bend of the boulder-strewn walls of the gorge.

“The great falls is near,” he said, pointing upriver where like

Thunder was heard a great rumbling sound, as they

Rounded the base of the cliff and paused for a moment,

“Here the Great Spirit lives like no other place,” he said.

“God is everywhere,” said Father Hennepin, “In these

“Trees and these rocks and this water that flows and gives life

“To everything in the great cycle of creation it touches—

“As you drink of this water, you taste a part of

“All that has emptied into the lakes and the rivers,

“All the creatures of earth and the sky and the oceans,

“Since the beginning of time when God created

“The earth and the water and beautiful light of the sky.”

Still, the guide gazed beyond to where the sound came from,

Then suddenly, through the clearing, Father Hennepin beheld

The roaring and rushing white majesty that is Niagara,

And stood there, transfixed for what seemed like eternity—

“Great is our God,” he said, for all other words failed him,

As he felt the great power that can crush a man’s body,

Yet exists like an infinite presence inside all of us—

The Indian brave and the white man and woman and child,

That speaks to the heart of all that is noble and great.

And as Father Hennepin and the Indian stood there,

They looked at each other, and around both of their mouths,

A slight yet knowing smile played for a moment.

--October, 2013

Daniel Leach is a poet living in Houston, Texas. He has spent much of his life fighting for the ideals of classical culture and and poetry. is collection of poetry is entitled "Voices on the Wind."

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