Mormon women have a rich, if under-appreciated history as poets. The art of poetry has been a way for Mormon women to express their deepest feelings; the joys and struggles of the everyday, the complexities of womanhood and their spirituality and quest for the divine. Each poem is an invocation, a supplication for understanding and connection.
We at the Exponent wish to honor Mormon women by giving voice to their heartfelt invocations. Every other Sunday we will be exploring the poetry of Mormon women, both from the past and the present, whether sacred or mundane. If you have a poem you wish to share, please consider submitting it to us at ExponentblogATgmailDOTcom. We hope you enjoy these poems as much as we do.
Perhaps the only way to begin is with a poem so monumental in Mormon women’s poetry, experience and theology.
Invocation, or the Eternal Father and Mother
O my Father, thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain thy presence,
And again behold thy face?
In thy holy habitation,
Did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood,
Was I nurtured near thy side?
For a wise and glorious purpose
Thou hast placed me here on earth,
And withheld the recollection
Of my former friends and birth.
Yet ofttimes a secret something
Whispered, “You’re a stranger here.”
And I felt that I had wandered
From a more exalted sphere.
I had learned to call thee Father,
Through thy Spirit from on high;
But until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heavens are parents single?
No; the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason, truth eternal
Tells me I’ve a mother there.
When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I’ve completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.
I first gained my testimony while singing this song. The reference to my Heavenly Mother hit me so strongly that I started to cry and for the first time, I felt homesick for my Heavenly Parents and Home. It seems that even still, I feel the spirit so strongly when I learn more about my Heavenly Mother. Is my experience unique or do others feel a similar connection to Her?
Sara, I think a lot of women yearn for their Mother. I just wrote a paper about the ways Mormon women try to reach out to her. Some people read “Wisdom” as Heavenly Mother in the scriptures. Some write new hymn verses that include her. Some change their language to include her, using “God” rather than Heavenly Father, having defined God as both Parents. Some talk about Heavenly Parents in church rather than Heavenly Father. And some commune with Her in meditation and prayer.
Great poem. Thanks for sharing that.
Love the cartoon! Is it from the original Woman’s Exponent?
awesome awesome AWESOME.
this totally made my day.
That image is priceless.
Glad you liked the poem. The image is a political cartoon from 1917, published in Puck Magazine.
Love this new feature!
Thanks for posting this– It’s what I needed especially after this week of sadness for our Afghani sisters
Always nice to see Haydn in a poem. 🙂
One of the most beautiful poetic (or otherwise) tributes to parents I have EVER read. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!
This poem feel like a big bear hug.
I was the one who submitted this poem, and I did it during a time I was writing a paper on the Relief Society Magazine. Most of my research sessions tended to digress into just sitting in periodicals in the BYU library, turning all the pages of the RS magazine until I came across a poem. I think those are my favorite part of the RS magazine, and I wish The Ensign would bring that feature back.
Shelley, thanks for sending it to Exponent. I love to see these Mormon women’s poems from the past.