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Death of Teancum

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 22, 2011

Death of Teancum

By Benjamin F. Cummings

Teancum, O Teancum! Is this thy form so cold!
Can it be true that thou art dead, O soldier, strong and bold!
Shall we thy comrades ne’er again fight side by side with thee?
And shall we ne’er again be led by thee to victory?

Teancum, O Teancum! How can we part from thee!
How can we spare thee from our ranks! Must such bereavement be!
O father, brother, leader brave! Thy valor never failed;
Though sword point pressed upon thy breast thy stout heart never quailed.

The wicked Lamanitish king, bloodthirsty Ammoron,
With all his dark skinned hosts were camped within walls high and strong.
Protected thus, they slept secure, the king within his tent,
When thou, Teancum, scaled the walls, on righteous vengeance bent.

Thy purpose was to end a war caused by a traitor’s schemes,
And by one blow to put an end to his ambitious dreams.
Thy thought was that the traitor’s death, encampassed by thy hand,
Would bring quick peace and happiness to thy distracted land.

‘Twas midnight’s hour and darkness did thy panther movement hide;
The tent where lay the sleeping king thy keen eye soon espied.
The tent door, yielding to thy touch, let in a star’s faint ray
That dimly showed the couch whereon the slumb’ring monarch lay.

Thou poised thy javelin with true aim above that wicked breast;
Another instant and its point within that heart found rest.
A single cry escaped the king, his servant heard the sound –
One shout – a thousand glittering swords the king’s tent did surround.

An eagle’s wings could not have saved thee from thy fate so swift.
E’er thou couldst move ten steps away thy heart in twain was cleft.
Thy courage rash had cost thy life, and now around thy bier
The Nephite soldiers bow in grief for one to them so dear.

Teancum, O Teancum, in battle’s dread array,
Where arrows flew and sword blades flashed and hate and blood held sway,
When comrades fell around thee fast, and foes fierce vengeance took,
Thy voice ne’er failed thy troops to cheer, thy true hand never shook.

Teancum, O Teancum, thou soldier, statesman, friend!
Within thy heart so great and brave did all the virtues blend;
A patriot, a leader, a champion of the right,
A tyrant’s foe, a friend of peace, a soul of lustre bright.

Teancum, O Teancum, the Nephite nation weeps
Around the grave where now in peace our hero sweetly sleeps;
And to our children we will tell, and in our scriptures write
The story of thy deeds and worth, and of thy last brave fight.

(1913)



3 Comments »

  1. Actually, the Book of Mormon takes a bit more nuanced approach to Teancum, to which most writers I’ve looked at have been pretty dense.

    Comment by Steve — September 22, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

  2. Please elaborate, Steve.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 22, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

  3. Teancum is a pretty interesting character. It’s hard to know what to make of him. I am really curious as to what you mean by nuanced Steve. I think it’s hard to read the text without being conflicted. But I think that’s more a function of our modern ethos rather than a lot of nuance to the text itself.

    Comment by Clark — September 22, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

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