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Circa December 1854


Polysophical Society; Salt Lake City, Utah Territory

To Parents.

By E. R. Snow

Fathers and mothers! love for Zion’s weal

Inspires the music to proffer an appeal,

In Zion’s name. Her welfare is our aim,

And mutual int’rest; therefore I will claim,

Not the indulgences of your list’ning ear,

Nor the vain plaudits sycophants would hear;

But your attention, thoughtful, calm and grave—

Your sober judgment I would fondly crave.

You all are stewards of what you possess:

You may abuse or use in righteousness;

And thus the children giv’n you of the Lord

May prove your curse, or prove a rich reward.

Early in life, is the direction giv’n

Which leads them down to hell or up to heav’n.

As outlines sketch’d in youth and infancy,

The manhood and the womanhood will be.

The infant mind is like an empty cell,

Where good and evil find a place to dwell,

And may, by culture, be enlarg’d and fill’d,

And truth and error, one or both, instill’d.

Our bodies, thro’ exertion, strength obtain—

By exercise, to proper growth attain:

Let healthy, vig’rous limbs, inertly lie,

How soon they perish—ultimately die!

And without practice too, the mental powers,

Weak, unsupplied with needful, useful stores;

Will not arrive at their diploma’d worth,

Nor shed their own inherent lustre forth.

We cannot pow’rs and faculties create,

But 'tis our province, both to cultivate:

And while life’s busy scenes are hurrying thro’,

The most important is the first to do;

And surely none can more of worth combine,

Than the improvement of the youthful mind.

Will ignorance—will wit and sportive glee—

Will nonsense qualify your sons to be

Your representatives to carry on

The work you have commenced, when you are gone?

In high important offices to act—

As Zion’s judges, business to transact

In things momentous for all Israel’s sake,

With the salvation of the world at stake?

When education waits before your door—

When her rich streams in golden currents pour;

Altho’ yourselves have not the time to sip,

Inspire your sons and daughters too, to dip.

Prompt them to mental service, while the mind,

Like pliant boughs, is easily inclined—

While they with readiness and pleasure take

The impressions which the sculptor’s chisels make.

Your sons as heralds, soon must go abroad

To face the world—to teach the truth of God—

The wise—the erudite of earth to meet—

Knowledge with knowledge—mind with mind complete—

All their attainments criticised and tried,

Before tribunals of ungodly pride:

Where no apologies will be received,

And no mistakes and errors be retriev’d.

’Tis true, the Lord his Spirit does bestow,

And thro’ that medium, streams of knowledge flow:

But when the opportunities are giv’n,

Thro’ the o’er-ruling providence of heav’n,

For self-improvement; no one need expect

That God will smile upon our own neglect.

The Lord assists all those who do their part—

The dilatory ones must feel the smart.

Would not your bowels of compassion yearn

To think your child, in stranger lands must learn,

By force of cruel circumstances, what

He might have been, at home, in kindness taught?

Among the brutes, and brutish of our kind,

The pow’r of sinew rules, instead of mind:

Where cultivation sheds its genial ray,

Knowledge is pow’r, and mental strength bears sway.

As fins obscure the vision of the blind,

So ign’rance hides the lustre of the mind—

To rude unpolish’d gems, it will compare,

Till education stamps an impress there.

Should Zion’s sons, in aught deficient be,

That will adorn, or yield utility?

And very soon your blooming daughters will

Their destin’d place as wives and mothers fill.

The best—the noblest boon they can receive—

The richest fortune, you have power to give—

The wealthiest patrimony under heav’n,

Is Education timely—wisely giv’n.

Not erudition’s superficial gloss—

Its glitt’ring tinsel, and its flimsy dross,

Vain useless lumber—foolish, empty boast,

Which constitutes the braggadocia’s toast.

Instead of fabled, false, fictitious glare,

Teach them what was—what will be, and what are;

Which will their minds with useful stores supply—

Expand, ennoble, and exalt them high,

Teach them the principles of life and health,

And make them rich with intellectual wealth;

As your best legacy, teach them to find,

By constant searchings, treasures for the mind;

All else will perish or elude their grasp,

Tho’ much they cherish—tho’ they fondly clasp;

But what they gather up of mental worth,

Will not forsake them when they leave the earth.

The pow’r of method students gain in school,

Forms a credential—constitutes a tool,

An operative instrument, whereby

Their own resources, they can self-apply.

Then, let your children be well taught in youth,

Upon the basis of eternal Truth—

Self-cultivated too, as well as taught—

Train’d to reflection, and inur’d to thought:

And both in Time, and in Eternity,

Your sons, as pillars, in the church, will be—

As chosen saviors on Mount Zion stand,

And sway the royal sceptre of command:

Your daughters too, as polish’d stones, will shine,

And ornament their parentage and line—

To grace—to dignify celestial courts,

Where the illustrious from all the worlds resort;

And mingle in the high assemblies, where

The Holy Ones—the Gods and angels are.

G. S. L. City, Feb. 18601

[. . .] [p. 116]

Source Note

E. R. Snow, “Original Poetry: To Parents,” Mountaineer 1, no. 29 (10 Mar. 1860): 116.