About the name: A Motley Vision

A Motley Vision takes its name from “Love and the Light: An Idyll of the Westland” a rather didactic verse epic written by Orson F. Whitney. Published in 1918, the work was intended to combat the secularism and “Higher Criticism” which Whitney felt was creeping into Utah society. At one point the hero of the poem, a Harvard man who converts to the LDS Church, visits the Grand Canyon while traveling by train to Utah. Whitney launches into an extended description of the Canyon, drawing upon vivid imagery and wild Classical- and Christian-inspired metaphors to present a complex portrait of its sublime beauty. It’s the best passage in the entire work.

Several stanzas into the passage, the hero describes the Canyon at sunset:

Glorious and grotesque presentment,
Good and ill, a motley vision,
Half-alluring, half repelling;
Rainbow-hued, yet shorn of radiance,
Like to Lucifer the Fallen;
Beautiful, though sadly brilliant,
Blazing with satanic splendor
In the sunset’s dying glory;
All the hues of hell and heaven
In one blare of lurid blazoning,
In one master stroke commingled.

Hmmm. Perhaps I should have chosen “Blare of Lurid Blazoning” instead.

One thought on “About the name: A Motley Vision”

  1. William,

    There is so much in this poem and “Elias, An Epic of the Ages”. I am not a critic, nor could I ever be, but these two poems are so full of wisdom and beauty. It baffles me that we don’t hear more about them. I look forward to your analysis.

    Merry Christmas!  

    Posted by Larry

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