Eliza R. Snow is more than a poetess as she served, led the Relief Society

Published: Wednesday, March 12 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

“In gratitude to her Relief Society sisters for having helped fund her travels, she shared her experience with her sisters by writing poems describing her journey and sending them back to be printed in Woman’s Exponent (magazine),” Davidson wrote.

Eliza also helped organize the Primary, and the last journey of her life was to southern Utah to meet with Relief Societies and Primaries, Davidson said. “She would allow the Primary children to hold in their hands the watch that Joseph Smith had given to her.”

Poetry

Eliza’s “poems serve as a wonderful snapshot album of early Mormon history,” Davidson said, as Eliza wrote about what was happening to her and her community.

Davidson had previous helped compile and edit a volume of Eliza’s poetry — all 507 poems, running more than 1,300 pages. “Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry” was published jointly by Brigham Young University and the University of Utah in 2009.

In the 178-page biography, Davidson and Derr have included some selections of her poetry “when they give insight into her feelings.”

In the era in which Eliza lived, poetry was commonly used in written communication.

“Poetry was just a more common happening, with more people writing it and more people reading it than today," Davidson wrote. "Poetry often appeared on the front page of newspapers, with Eliza’s often on the front page of the Deseret News and other papers."

Eliza's suitor, James Barr Walker, whom she ultimately rejected, was part owner of the Western Courier, and their poetry to each other was published in the paper.

“Poetry could be called a nineteenth-century equivalent of blogging,” Davidson said. “Many of Eliza’s poems were back-and-forth discussions with other poets.”

Eliza’s poems include faith, determination, humor and compassion, Davidson said. “She was in tune with local and world events and was always able to help her fellow Saints strengthen their faith and deepen their thinking,” Davidson said.

Email: rappleye@deseretnews.com Twitter: CTRappleye

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