My recent study on the correspondence of Ina Coolbrith and Joseph F. Smith introduced me to three poems Mormon women wrote to the future prophet while he was on his first mission to the Sandwich Islands (1854-1858). While each poem shares some common themes and sentiments, their quality, style, and content vary in interesting and revealing ways.
The poems come from members of Joseph F. Smith’s family. Eliza R. Snow, Smith’s aunt through her plural marriage to Joseph Smith, wrote the earliest of the poem:
Lines address’d to Elder
Joseph Smith, Missionary to the Sandwich Islands
By Eliza R. Snow.
Joseph, the Lord has blest you
To be in early youth,
A herald of salvation—
A messenger of Truth.
And yet, the load is heavy
For youthful nerves to bear,
Amid the hosts of trials
The sons of Zion share.
Continue reading “Three Poems by Mormon Women to Joseph F. Smith, 1855-1857”
Since reading Added Upon and writing about it in my dissertation, I’ve wanted to compile a list of works of nineteenth-century Mormon utopian literature, or works that describe or yearn for an ideal society or which advocate for action that would lead to such. I realize, though, that compiling such a list is almost a fool’s errand since so much of early Mormon literature–and I consider hymns literature–has to do with building Zion and the Millennium, the ultimate utopian dreams.
Even so, a few months ago, I spent an afternoon and came up with this list. It is incomplete, of course, and will likely remain so until I get serious about it. What I’d like to do in the meantime, though, is open it up to you who know nineteenth-century Mormon literature better than I do (my interest in it is about two years old) and ask if I’m missing anything crucial. Specifically, I’m looking for works of fiction or “proto-fiction” (allegories, fables, parables, etc.) that could be reasonably labeled “utopian” or even “millennialist.” I’m interested in poetry too if its utopian expression is out of the ordinary.
My thought, however, is that what I have below is fairly representative of what’s out there. Am I right?
Continue reading “19th Century Mormon Utopian Literature”