A Book of Mormon Poem

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by James Goldberg

I love the Bible, which speaks to all the seasons of life and which has lent richness to poetry for two thousand years. But we are told the Book of Mormon was written for our day. The Book of Mormon–with its stark, sobering images of total self-destruction, with its desperate hope in Christ against the days when human beings make the earth herself suffer under the weight of their pride. The Book of Mormon–with its whispers from the dust, with its thousand and one laments for our forgetfulness.

The Book of Mormon. With its promises. With its forsaken prophets’ inextinguishable hopes.

What poems might we write out of such a Book?

Song for the House of Jared

You cleared and you ploughed and you planted these lands
(and their name will be Desolation)

You built up great cities with bare, calloused hands
(and their fame will be left Desolation)

You bartered and borrowed, you purchased and sold
(and these riches will buy Desolation)

Your kings and their sons fought like heroes of old
(and their bones will adorn Desolation)

Hear this: someday a nation will rise like your own
(when old trees overgrow Desolation)

And they, too, will choose by what name to be known
(but must it be yours, Desolation?)

About James Goldberg

James Goldberg's family is Jewish on one side, Sikh on the other, and Mormon in the middle. Goldberg co-edits the Everyday Mormon Writer literary website, teaches composition and creative writing courses at BYU, and blogs at Mormon Midrashim. His debut novel, The Five Books of Jesus, was published in September 2012.

3 Responses to A Book of Mormon Poem

  1. Bonnie says:

    A prophetic ballad! I love the waltz of anapestic meter, and the stresses are beautifully timed. You have a gift for the short poem. This is so uniquely American, such a sense of choice in destiny, but a forward destiny nonetheless. I’ll be humming through the day now.

  2. Cheryl says:

    I love the imagery of the ancient civilization being overgrown… And your opening paragraph was poetry, too.

  3. anita says:

    Great! We could use more B of M poetry. Are you familiar with the army of Shiz song? http://www.musicaboutnothing.com/?p=175

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