Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » We Do Not Call Thee Chieftain

We Do Not Call Thee Chieftain

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 02, 2013

We Do Not Call Thee Chieftain

By Sarah E. Carmichael

We do not call thee Chieftain,
We do not name thee King;
We wreathe no brilliants for thy brow,
No ermine round thee fling;
And thou art crowned, but with the light
That gilds the throne above;
Thy lofty spirit’s wealth of power,
Thy people’s clinging love.

We do not call thee Chieftain,
Thy cheek would flush to hear
Earth’s titles woven with thy name,
And whispered in thine ear.
As well presume to gild the sun,
Or paint earth’s brightest flowers;
We only call thee Brigham Young,
We only call thee ours.

We do not call thee Chieftain,
Let golden crowns be wrought
For brows unhallowed by the touch
Of soul ennobling thought;
But thou – the purest, holiest prayer
To listening angels flung
Is whispered when the people breathe
The name of Brigham Young.

Bowery, August 8, 1857



  1. Whoah!

    Comment by David Y. — July 2, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

  2. :)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 2, 2013 @ 9:16 pm

  3. Nice!

    Comment by Jeffery Johnson — July 2, 2013 @ 11:10 pm

  4. So, this is an old BYU cheer?

    Comment by Carol — July 3, 2013 @ 9:42 am

  5. Ha! Good one, Carol.

    Reading this piece again, I’m struck by the hilarious irony of how the author says that we don’t confer an honorific on Brigham Young. She says that the purest, holiest prayer is flung to no less than the listening angels when the people merely breathe the name of Brigham Young, and yet, “we do not (NOT!) call thee Chieftain.” Ha!

    P.S. I wonder if the presentation of this poem was accompanied by a wreath of braided hair? Seriously.

    Comment by David Y. — July 3, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  6. Sarah E. Carmichael was … er … um …. something of a “special” lady, one whose Muse lifted her well above the mundane sphere. I may have to write about her someday.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 3, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

  7. Do it! A quick online search shows evidence that Sarah wrote many poems . . . so there’s that.

    Comment by David Y. — July 3, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

  8. FWIW, while researching Carmichael and this poem for my post here:

    I discovered that this poem was actually first published in 1860, not in 1857.

    AND, for further information on Carmichael, there is a thorough UHQ article:

    Murphy, Miriam B. “Sarah Elizabeth Carmichael: Poetic Genius of Pioneer Utah.” Utah Historical Quarterly, v43 n1, Winter 1975, pp. 52-66.

    PDF of that UHQ issue is available here:

    Comment by Kent Larsen — September 8, 2013 @ 8:31 pm

  9. I should add, that the UHQ article implies that Carmichael may have been suggesting what should happen in this poem, and adds that contemporaries claimed there was some friction between Carmichael and Brigham Young, especially after she married out of the Church in 1866.

    Comment by Kent Larsen — September 8, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

  10. The poem may not have been printed until 1860, Kent, but it was recited in 1857, so I’ve dated it that way. And yes, there was definitely friction between Sarah E. Carmichael and Church leaders, including Brigham Young. I think her becoming the pet of the army/federal officials, out of which her marriage grew, of course, was the origin.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 8, 2013 @ 8:42 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI