Articles/Essays – Volume 49, No. 3

Eight Visions of the First

Derived from Joseph Smith Jr.’s four accounts of the First Vision


And how shall I know it?
In the 16th year at about the age of twelve
     I was about       at this time, in my fifteenth year,
an obscure boy of no consequence
of a little over fourteen years of age.

My mind  seriously impressed
with the glorious luminary of the earth
 rolling in majesty through its courses
and I stood—
a man walking forth upon the face 


I discovered  all important  concern,
convinced of my sin and feeling       to mourn,
 found I did not come unto the summum bonum
of perfection.   My heart exclaimed,
“Well hath the wise man said!”
I knew not who was right.
The beast of field, fowls of heaven,
fish of waters;
are they all together wrong?


Strength and beauty wrought up in my mind.
I considered upon these
in their bounds 
a power and intelligence so exceeding great
        that maketh and bindeth,
        marvelous even:
spirit   and truth.
I seek such to worship.

My mind called  to great feelings,
a deep and pungent
somewhat partial  to believing.
I felt desire in the midst of this war—
so great the tumult  it was impossible
for a person
young as I was
and so unacquainted with men and things
to come to any certain 


I often said to myself, what is to be done?
I began to reflect  upon the importance
      of being
aloof.      At length I discover
I must remain    in darkness
and confusion          or else.
Could God be believing, 
     as if author of a church?


Being thus perplexed
in mind, I most desired
to call out amidst my anxieties—

retired to the silent
woods to make
the attempt.
Kneeled down on the morning
of a beautiful day
in a secret previously
designed place
early and began
a fruitless attempt.
In other words,
for the first time with fixed determination,
having looked around—
my swollen tongue in my mouth
—I cried,
finding myself alone.

There was none else.
To whom could I go?


Which is it?

behind me a noise like some person
but could not draw nearer
I sprung up but saw no thing
to seize upon,
could not speak
 overcome and astonishing—
my tongue thick
as if doomed in that
   great alarm
by some enemy of destruction
I had never before felt,
ready to sink
to the power of despair and abandon.
To whom if any


I saw,
believing to obtain
and he spake
my name.

My mouth   opened, and liberated
I cried my cry:
in a brilliant wilderness  of light,
the world gracefully taken
away in a pillar
like flame in the air, yet nothing
And a personage, come quickly
calling me—
another in the cloud
all draw near me,
many whose brightness defy all glory
entered in.

And receiving, I cannot write,
was filled
in the midst of unspeakable ungodliness,


Noon opened,
resembling a promise
eclipsed the glory of my heart above me
with a likeness.

I, my glorious spirit,

And he, “I am.”

And again,
lying on my back, I came to
find myself in the 16th year
of my 14 years of age,
early in the spring
looking into the sun.