Articles/Essays – Volume 01, No. 3

At Temple Square, Salt Lake City

This was the dream, beginning with a quest
For isolated work, that brought them west
To Salt Lake Valley, looking for new starts
And land in Zion, pushing stock and carts
Out of the world into Millennium 
In the Rocky Mountains. This was kingdom come:
To have their land, their God, and privacy,
Hold goods in common, try polygamy, 
Rough out new law and language, colonize,
Convert the Indians, plow the hills to size.
They saw this Temple when the ground was bare
Of everything but sagebrush; from the Square
They measured streets by its unbodied touch,
As Second South, Eleventh East, or such:
Through forty years of building, here was grace
For every passing dream; this was the place. 

This is the place! Now monuments are cast
As bronze and stone memorials to the past.
Seagulls, handcarts, and prophets on the lawn
Remind us of a season that is gone. 
A large museum features guided tours,
Brigham Young’s pants, and various furnitures
From Mormon history; and a guide invites
Our questions on religion, or the sights.

This is the place! Each hour a show begins,
An organ concert, talk, or drop of pins 
To prove the fine acoustics in a hall, 
And justify the ways of God to all. 
This is the place! Outside is paradise! 
New Salt Lake City, full of bright surprise
For modern pilgrims rushing out in cars
To find department stores, hotels, or bars.
This is the place that Brigham sought by dreams
And built for Christ: today the Temple seems
Abstracted from the life around the Square;
This is the place, but most are not aware. 

And they no longer measure life by streets
Or dreams of Zion; and the past competes
Both with its opposite and something new, 
The unexpected it should carry through,
But somehow comes up short behind the plaque
Or monument they raise to bring it back;
A half-success, the work less wrong than strange.
While the indifferent quality of change
Sends buildings higher, Temple Square grows dim;
And southward, neon pulses, from its rim
The valley bottoms out and falls away, 
And men in business suits pursue their day.
Some watch for Christ, and after snow at night,
They wake to their Millennium of white
And count this blessing, quiet, soft and deep,
And think of dreaming, in a dreamless sleep.