A Wary Heart Becomes "Fixed Unalterably" : Eliza R. Snow's Conversion to Mormonism
Journal of Mormon History
Salt Lake City, UT
Mormon History Association
Derr and Davidson focus on Eliza R. Snow's life as a poet before her encounter with the Church as well as the early years of her conversion. Eliza began writing verse as a small child. She was said to have been "tolerably good-looking when young" and had her share of suitors, but her disinterest in romance seemed to indicate that she had something more in mind for herself than an early marriage and the traditional role of women of that day. James B. Walker, literary editor and part owner of the "Western Courier," published her first poem and was one of her suitors, though she paid little attention to him. He greatly admired her work and followed her career even after she migrated west with the LDS Church. Included in the text is some of Snow's early poetry as it was printed in Walker's paper, as well as poetry he had written about her. The authors discuss the Snow family's religious affiliation with the Baptist faith and religious leaders such as Alexander Campbell, Sidney Rigdon, and Walter Scott, prior to coming into contact with Joseph Smith and the Mormons in 1831. Eliza was not as quick to accept the gospel as her family, but eventually she was baptized on April 5, 1835. She gathered with the Saints in Kirtland, developed a close friendship with the Joseph Smith, and her poetry continued to evolve with her religious convictions. Her first hymn text following her baptism "Praised ye the Lord" expressed her gratitude for "a prophet's voice. . .Tho' all the world deride." Her poem "Narcissa to Narcissus," published in 1839, completes the story of her conversion to Mormonism, and it serves as the prologue to her sealing to Joseph as a plural wife in June 1842. She moved with the Saints to Missouri, Illinois and Utah for more than half a century until her death in 1887. She had continued to write poems as "Zion's Poetress," the poet laureate of nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints.