Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry

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Brigham Young University Press, 2009 - Literary Criticism - 1333 pages
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Edited by Jill Mulvay Derr and Karen Lynn Davidson

BYU Studies

Mormon Studies/Poetry

Eliza R. Snow first published her poetry pseudonymously in an Ohio newspaper in 1825, when she was twenty-one. Her last poem was published in 1887, when she was eighty-three. In the intervening sixty-two years she wrote more than 500 poems. Her early work covered such various topics as the fight for Greek independence, the plight of the American Indian, and the deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Her themes changed when she joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1835, as her poetry began to reflect her new experiences, including poems about Nauvoo, the trek of the Mormon pioneers to the valley of the Great Salt Lake, and the religious community building that ensued. No public event in the community was complete without her contribution, and some of her poems became the texts for Mormon hymns. When she died on December 5, 1887, the New York Times noted the passing of “the Mormon Poetess . . . one of the central figures of the Mormon galaxy.”

Snow’s poems, varied in style and subject matter, reflect both Mormon and quintessentially American experiences of the nineteenth century. This volume, Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry, presents each poem with contextual information, making it as much a biographical, historical, and theological collection as a literary one, and offering readers the opportunity to enjoy all of the lyrical and powerful poems of this iconic Mormon figure.

Distributed for BYU Studies.


Eliza R. Snow was living in Ohio in 1826 and had already published her poetry in the Western Courier and the Ohio Star when she was asked by the editors of the Western Courier to commemorate the passing of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on the same day, July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. An excerpt from her poem demonstrates her engagement with the issues, and the styles, of her time.

Adams and Jefferson

"Now to their ashes honor--pleace be with them,
And choirs of angels sing them to their rest."

What bold presumption for my untaught muse!
Oh! for a muse by heaven inspired, to sing
In strains appropriate, the mournful theme!
What shock has nature felt, that should produce
Such strange vibration--such responsive sounds?
Hark! 'tis the death-bell--mark its solemn tone,
Columbia mourns, she mourns her patriot sons!
Methinks some sacred genii hover'd o'er
Their hoary heads, and life's protracted thread
Drew to its utmost length, that they might hail
Columbia's Jubilee. Oh, how unlike
The pathos of that day, big with event--
The storm thick gath'ring, and the threat'ning clouds
Bursting, from proud Britannia's isle impell'd
Against Columbia's shore!--then those we mourn,
With patriotic and heroic zeal,
Dar'd Albion's pow'r--proclaimed their country free.

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Contents

The Oliver and Rosetta Pettibone Snow home in Mantua Ohio
2
Detail of My Home and My Harp poem 15
15
Reawakend Lyre 18381842
73
Detail of On Being Importund poem 44
75
Springs of Joy and Grief 18421845
197
The Assassination of Gens Joseph Smith
200
Let Us Go 18461849
315
Eliza R Snows walnut wood lap desk
317
Lovely Deseret 18661870
701
Detail of Dedication To Brigham Young President over
703
On Things Eternal 18711877
821
Elizabeth Ann Whitney Emmeline B Wells Eliza R Snow
823
Evening Thoughts 18781887
959
Notes on Poems
1043
Textual Notes
1051
Works Cited
1271

Zion Prospers 18501856
393
Earliest extant image of Eliza R Snow
394
Banner of Freedom 18571865
549
Lion and Beehive houses Salt Lake City
551
Title and First Line Index
1293
Scripture Index
1311
General Index
1317
Copyright

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