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My Apology

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 15, 2011

Rulon S. Wells (1854-1941) was senior President of the First Council of the Seventy at his death at age 87. The following poem was written by him on his 84th birthday, and recited “with good-humored ridicule directed at the absurd superstitions of numerologists.”

An Apology for the Coincidence of Sevens

By Rulon S. Wells

For these verses, the fault is mine.
Alas! I wrote them, every line.
In reading them be good and kind;
Fling rhyme and meter to the wind!
I had to tell my story.
For this offense, if you’ll forgive,
Then never again so long’s I live,
I give my word, begorry.

1854 — Birthday Meditations — 1938

Just four score years and four today
And growing old and hoary,
With hair gone white and failing sight,
Hard of hearing, but deaf — not quite,
With all these failings and in spite —
I’m going to tell my story.
So hearken then while I unfold
The strangest story ever told,
Unheeding time or rhythm:
And if in telling this queer tale
In classic diction I may fail,
I hope to be forgiven.

It comes in cycles of seven years
With the mystic figure seven.
Whate’er betides me as I go
Along the road, both to and fro,
And whether it be weal or woe,
I mark it with a seven.

For I was born on the seventh day
In seventh month and seven years
After arrival in the valley
Of that noble band of Pioneers —
In all the world they had no peers,
And here they made their rally.

And from the place where I was born
In ‘dobe hut behind the cobble wall
Which once enclosed the famous block
Where immigrants were wont to flock —
From bishop’s storehouse get their stock,
Responding to their needy call,

I moved when seven years of age
To where Zion’s Bank now stands,
But then in mansion did we dwell —
In homelike comfort and oft heard tell
Of mighty deeds and angry Indian yell;
Of buffalo and cruel outlaw bands.

When two times seven — just fourteen years —
In the old Endowment House,
The Temple not built but scattered ’round
In native rock upon the ground,
I received endowments and was ordained
An Elder in my tender years.

When three times seven — just twenty-one,
Ordained a Seventy by Brigham Young:
On foreign mission sent
And bent on preaching Gospel plan,
In Germany and Switzerland
My ministry began.

Returning home from distant lands
My mission being ended,
The second time on native soil
On the seventh day and seventh month
In eighteen hundred seventy-seven
In America I landed.

When four times seven, though ’twas quite late,
Already I was twenty-eight,
A lovely maid from the Seventh Ward
Seven years I wooed and labored hard
Before I reaped the great reward
As Jacob did to get his mate.

When five times seven — “O, where’s my pen and ink?
For I must now put on my cap and think.”
I remember well that I was thirty-five,
And furthermore that I was still alive.
If aught I did or did what I ought not —
‘Tis just as well that it should be forgot.

When six times seven, again I went abroad
O’er European Mission to preside.
In Mid-Atlantic on the very day
That I was forty-two, by the way,
Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” then on display
Filled out hearts with patriotic pride.

With seven-year cycles I’m only halfway through,
So let’s forget the rest but still pursue
The mystic figure seven, and you will find
It still more mysterious if you’re inclined
To superstition, or you’re of feeble mind,
So listen: Strange! but what I say is true!

Seven wives my father truly had:
His seventh child and oldest son am I.
Seven children to him my mother bore;
And seven to me from the wife whom I adore;
I only wish of such I had a score.
‘Twould raise me to the Seventh heaven nigh.

When I came home from Germany,
Seven years as missionary
And seven in auxiliary,
I served my church at home, and then
Was chosen one of seven men:
First Seven Presidents of Seventy.

So now I’m fourscore years and four;
Twelve times seven makes eighty-four.
And so you see I’m through:
And greeting friends and kindred all,
Both old and young — and big and small,
I bid you all adieu.

(1938)



14 Comments »

  1. I wonder how many people will see this title listed at ldsblogs.org or at Nothing Wavering and will click through just to find out what horrible thing I did that I needed to apologize for …

    If you’re one of them, sorry to disappoint you! :)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 15, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

  2. Lots of people clicking through and then not remaining to read the entire poem? Very funny!

    About the poem: I hope I’m that sharp when I’m 84!

    Comment by Researcher — November 15, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  3. :)

    Endowed at 14? How common was that practice?

    Comment by Paul — November 15, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  4. Pretty common, from what I’ve seen, Paul, or at least it was after the St. George Temple was dedicated in 1877, which would have been a few years after RSW was 14. Another quiet evidence of our evolution.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 15, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

  5. I read this while drinking a 7-Up from the 7-11. Just saying…..think about it!

    Comment by kevinf — November 15, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

  6. My 8th grandson was born on the 8th day of the 8th month. So, nyaah, nyaah, nyaah, Bro. Wells. : )

    Comment by Mark B. — November 15, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  7. Yeah, but Mark, your grandson probably won’t grow up to be in the eighties quorum.

    Comment by Carol — November 15, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

  8. OK, so after Google educated me on obscure vocabulary (Weal, Begorry) and late 19th Century politics (Wm. Jennings Bryan), I hope my mind’s as nimble as Bro. Wells when I reach 12×7.

    Comment by The Other Clark — November 15, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

  9. Oh, The Other Clark, you’re re-crucifying me on that Cross of Gold.

    Nobody’s teaching American history anymore??? Oh, the humanity!

    Comment by Mark B. — November 16, 2011 @ 7:23 am

  10. I have seven loads of laundry to do. I hope to catch up before I’m 7×7. I’ve been behind on laundry for at least 7 years.

    My sixth child was born on June 6, 2006. My mom said she read in the news that there were women trying not to have their children on that day, scheduling induction in the days before.

    Comment by Dovie — November 16, 2011 @ 8:09 am

  11. What’s wrong with having a child on 6-6-6? : )

    Comment by Mark B. — November 16, 2011 @ 8:29 am

  12. Exactly nothing. ;)

    Comment by Dovie — November 16, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  13. Ardis, I came because I couldn’t believe you had anything to apologize for, and thus I was not disappointed.

    Comment by Mark N. — November 18, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

  14. And as long as we’re doing the numerology thing:

    My 13th birthday was on a Friday the thirteenth, and my 58th birthday (5 + 8 = 13) will also be on a Friday the 13th in the year 2013.

    Comment by Mark N. — November 18, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

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