Literary BMGD #27: Psalm LII

July 2, 2012 | 2 comments
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The chief character in Alma 30, the first of the two chapters in lesson 27, is Korihor, the anti-Christ, who preaches, among other things, the contradictory ideas that there will be no Christ and that the future can’t be known. By the end of the chapter Korihor has begged for a sign and been struck dumb. He then admits that he has been deceived by the devil.

While the earliest Mormon writers didn’t face many anti-Christs (at least not those who stated as much like Korihor did), they certainly faced those they considered just as bad—such as Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs. And Church members weren’t always circumspect with their feelings.

Fortunately, the author of this poem only mentions Boggs specifically in the dedication, not in the poem itself. And the language can as easily be taken as a diatribe against Korihor as one against Boggs.

The poem is subtitled “a parody,” apparently because it is based on Psalm 52, using many of its phrases while shifting to a modern structure and English rhymes. But unlike some parodies, this contains no attempt to poke fun at scripture. Instead its target is Boggs.

Unfortunately, its authorship is not clear. The attribution to “David Jr.” seems likely to be part of the parody; the psalms were written by David, so this is written by “David Jr.”

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Psalm LII

[A Parody]

by David Jr.

To the Chief Musician, Maschil, a Psalm for Joseph, when Boggs the Edomite
came and told Carlin, and said unto him, Joseph is come to the city of Nauvoo.

Why dost thou boast in mischief, wicked man?
The goodness of my God endureth still;
Thy wretched soul doth constant evil plan,
Led captive by the devil at his will.

 

Thine eyes for evil constantly do turn,
Thy slanderous tongue with lying mischief run,
Thou lovest words that blast, devour, and burn;
O that deceitful, blasting cursed tongue!—

 

God’s curse shall rest on thy devoted head,
Thy carcass wither, and thy spirit sink
To seek a hopeless place among the dead;
The dregs of God’s almighty wrath to drink,

 

Thy horrid downfall shall the righteous see,
And laugh to scorn they cursing and thy groans;
“Behold the brute who did our God defy!
Despised the widow’s tears, and orphan’s moans.—” Selah!

 

But I will flourish in the house of God;
Because I trust his mercy; and his name
I’ll praise forever, near and far abroad,
With joyful saints, publish his matchless fame!

Nauvoo, June 20th, 1841.

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It seems to me that much in this poem parallels the story of Korihor. In the end Korihor admits that he has been lying. His words are destructive like those described in the poem. He is led by the devil, and, in the end, his “horrid downfall” “the righteous see.” All of which make for an interesting addition to this week’s lesson.

2 Responses to Literary BMGD #27: Psalm LII

  1. themormonbrit on July 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Interesting poem. While I think it is an interesting insight into the kinds of feelings that were running high in the Nauvoo period, I personally think there is a bit too much gloating and satisfaction with Boggs’ fall from grace. The tone comes across as taking a kind of vengeful pleasure in the knowledge that eventually Boggs will burn in hell, which I don’t find particularly appealing. Still, it captures the feelings of the time.

  2. Kent Larsen on July 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I agree. I wonder, though, if the same attitude might have followed Korihor.

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