To quell the eager mob that swarms, don’t blink.
Unclasp your fingers from the dusty sill.
Receive the yank upon your gut and sink
through sulfur winds, alone yet blissful. Fill
your lungs full one last time, as rough stones rise
up past your face. Shoulder the violent earth.
Wish at a well as darnel crowds your eyes.
Upturn your brow, sleek and golden since birth.
Slip away deep in the skull ark your mother
prepared, while your draining face smiles at rods
of hollowed iron spitting fire. Brother,
poor wayfarer’s friend, Well done! say the Gods.
Your temple walls with Tishbite footprints blend.
Vanish in swirling dreams dreamt without end.
The above sonnet owes something to the late Truman G. Madsen and his 1978 discourse, “Joseph Smith Lecture 8: The Last Months and Martyrdom.” I was introduced to the full series of lectures, Joseph Smith the Prophet, by the missionary who trained me in New England. Notwithstanding my later journey into agnosticism, listening to Dr. Madsen’s lectures as a young missionary in Maine profoundly affected me. They endeared the prophet Joseph to me in a way I have never been able to shake.
Featured image from Wikimedia Commons.
This poem does an excellent job of portraying the fear that was inherent in the 19th Century frontier society in which Joseph lived. Violence was always just around the corner and could strike at any time, as it tragically did with Joseph.
We must as ourselves: is our society returning to that very culture of violence? Judging from the proliferation or violent video games and media, it certainly appears that we are heading in that direction. Brother Joseph must be turning over in his grave.
This is lovely. Thank you.
JCS: If you want to decry our current culture of violence, I think you’re missing the more obvious insurrection and physical assault on the US Capitol of Jan 6th and the string of assaults on flight attendance this year, resulting in many passengers being removed and fined. It’s nuts out there! I’d much rather if these short-fused buffoons would focus their attention on killing aliens in a round of Halo.