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The Neglected Grave of a Mormon Pioneer

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 23, 2013

The Neglected Grave of a Mormon Pioneer

By Frank C. Steele

Was it for this he strove:
This unfrequented path I see,
This grave unkept, sunken, rude,
Unmarked save for a blackened board,
Symbol of man’s ingratitude?

Men of today, I understand it not.
Was this the end for which he toiled and fought?
This resting-place in ruin and decay,
These rank weeds feeding o’er his head,
This broken fence, this gate moulding in the mire,
This mean abandon of the deathless dead?

Have you forgotten how his winged faith
Outsoared the torments of Nauvoo;
How his brave heart and ready hand
Turned to the tasks ahead and saw them through –
Through the black night when demons hissed
Their taunting whisperings of death;
Through brooding mists when Hope’s faint voice
Called at the dawn with tremulous breath?

Have you forgotten, men of this smug day,
How this man sleeping here met faces
Purple with fever, eyes that begged rest, lips that spoke of heaven,
Praying in the speech of many races?
His all he shared, leaving his own oft scant,
Parted his bread, his drink, the shelter o’er his head,
Soothing racked souls mumbling in the dark.
“How peaceful is the journey of the dead!”

‘Tis told he was a savior in those weary weeks
Of stumbling on through heat and wind and rain;
That oft he sang to children huddled near the fire
When darkness brimmed the overwhelming plain;
That, one night on the Platte, Death’s Angel snatched
From his arms his winsome lad of three;
He buried him beside the frontier flood,
Thanking the Father for a friendly tree.

One of the first to plow this valley’s sod,
He saw its rise, its seasons come and go,
Its people build their homes, its children multiply,
Its cities spread, its fields and orchards grow.

Was it for this he strove:
This unfrequented path I see,
This bed beneath weed rising high
From the sweet earth which he once tilled
Under the glory of the morning sky?
Men of today, have ease and fortune driven
Remembrance to the wilderness?
Will you not pause a moment in your play
To make e’en now some measure of redress?

(1928)



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