Poetess. Prophetess. Priestess. Presidentess. These are all words Jill Mulvay Derr and Karen Lynn Davidson used to describe Eliza R. Snow at an event Friday, Nov. 20, in the Sons of the Utah Pioneers building to celebrate the release of "Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry." The 1,333-page book was edited by Derr and Davidson — an intense labor of love. It contains 507 poems, arranged chronologically, spanning from 1825 to 1887. Poems were drawn from Snow's two published volumes, but the majority are unpublished poems from other sources, such as newspapers and her journals. "We know that people are going to come forward with new poems," Derr said. "It has (already) happened since it was published." Snow is known for being a powerful figure in the Mormon canon, having shaped the faces of the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary organizations. "(Snow) was one of the best-known (LDS) women for her intellect, spirituality and leadership," Derr said.Derr said Snow was known as a prophetess for the truths she expressed in her writing, a priestess for her role in directing women's ordinance work, a presidentess for her time spent leading in church organizations and, of course, a poetess.But who was the "real Eliza" outside of her service? "This is not private poetry," said Derr of the volume. "This is not 'curl up in your bed' poetry — (it is) kingdom-building poetry." Most of Snow's poetry is dedicated to inspiring and encouraging the Saints amidst their many persecutions. After joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Snow penned two hymns, "Praise Ye the Lord" and "The Glorious Day Is Rolling On." For a couple of years after that, however, her pen was silent. By the start of the Nauvoo -period, Snow found her voice as she began to chronicle the trials and triumphs of the people — such as laying the cornerstone for the Nauvoo Temple, poems for the Smith family, and a long poem on the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and brother Hyrum.When the Mormons started west, Snow began to write trail songs that were then copied by clerks and distributed through the camps to lift morale. When Snow passed away in 1887, "the Assembly Hall was packed (for her funeral)," Davidson said. "And (upon Snow's request) was draped in white, not black."Snow had penned a poem, "Bury Me Quietly When I Die," that was set to music by Ebenezer Beesley and performed by a choir at her funeral. Having her words sung was a fitting tribute to Snow, the voice of the people. "Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry" was published by Brigham Young University Press and can be purchased through Deseret Book.
Complete poetry of Eliza R. Snow published
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