Literary BMGD #29: Two poems — Oh taste not of the cup; Be Slow to Condemn

Alma 36 to 39 contain Alma’s advice to his three sons, Helaman, Shiblon and Corianton, which led me to the idea of parental advice—something that usually accumulates bit by bit over years rather than all in one block as Alma seems to have done with his sons. Of this advice, perhaps the most famous, especially when it comes to Mormon literature, is the advice given to Corianton and the reason for that advice. Corianton’s story has been the source for dozens of literary works — so much so that encountering a character in a Mormon story named “Cory” should automatically make you think of Alma 39.

Were it divorced from the scriptures, I’m not sure how well Alma’s advice, given to a teenager or young adult, would go over. So much depends on the relationship between parent and child, and too many parents are sometimes overbearing in their “advice.” I don’t know about you, but I won’t be surprised to hear someone in Sunday School, when these chapters are discussed, mention how advice must be given with care.

Given all this, I’m providing two poems this week. The first, Oh, taste Not of the Cup, is in the vein of advice that parents do give their kids—especially on the kind of sin that Corianton got himself into. The second, Be Slow to Condemn, is more counsel that parents might take in how they give advice to their children. I think they both make good points.


Oh Taste Not of the Cup

by William Rodgers

Oh! taste not of the cup, for there

Are lurking seeds of future woes
Heart breaking anguish and dispair
Is that which from the goblet flows.
Yea, poison lurks within the bowl,
That’s death forever both to the body and the soul,
Although ye fear not now to drink,

Yet time will come when ye shall say,
Oh had we once but stop’d to think

E’re we thus far had gone astray;
E’re we had quaf’d our pleasures up
Or had we though upon the curses of the cup.
That even every hope destroys,—

The spring of sorrow and of shame,
That crushes, ruins all our joys,

And blights and withers every smile.
Beastly and infamous, degrading, mean and vile.
Taste not the cup, ’tis bitterness,

The very dregs of misery,
Its Joys first wear a winning dress,

Yet ends in robeless infamy,
Oh! woeful is the drunkard’s doom—
The dungeon, gallows-tree, or else an early tomb.
Just cast a single glance around,

Upon your native land,
And many a soul ye shall see bound

By that insinuating band.
Full many widow’s tears are shed
For husbands lowly laid, in their last narrow bed.
And many an orphan’s voice you’ll hear,

Lisping fondly a teacher’s name,
Who valued not that title dear,
But lived a wretched life of shame;
And broke that dear and holy tie
That bound him to his child, but yet for drink would die.

Nauvoo Neighbor, v1 n6, 7 June 1843, p. 1


Be Slow to Condemn

by Andrew Dalrymple (1817-1890)

It is human to err and stray from the fold,
But divine to forgive like our Master of old;
Then let us, like Him, to the wayward be kind,
And His precepts, so Godlike, still bear in mind.
For the prodigal son, in his thoughtless career,
The fatted calf kill, his poor soul to cheer.
Ye fathers be kind to your sons in their youth,
And teach them to walk in the bright paths of truth;
Your examples be such, that at some future day,
They’ll rise up and bless you when you’ve passed away,
And your precepts remember, and cherish them, when
They mingle at times with the children of men.
Oh! God of all grace, teach me to impart
To frail erring mortals the thoughts of my heart,
Through the trump of the Spirit, I’d shout all the day,
Could I win one poor soul from his profligate way,
And teach him to shun the dark portals of strife,
And his thirsty soul slake at the fountain of life
Where is the man who is fortified so
He can say in his pride, Shall I ever sin? No;
And rise up in judgment, on his merit alone,
And at his frail brother cast the first stone?
Beware! Oh beware! how you judge, lest the same
Be meted to you in Jehovah’s great name.
My heart melts with love and with charity when
I think of the frailties of poor erring men;
And remember that I, too, am subject to stray
In an unguarded moment from virtue’s bright way.
Oh, God of my fathers, I beseech Thee forgive
Thy poor erring children, and say to them, Live!

The Contributor, v4 (1882-1883)


text here

2 comments for “Literary BMGD #29: Two poems — Oh taste not of the cup; Be Slow to Condemn

  1. Thanks for this. I especially love the second poem. I am reminded (perhaps because I watched it recently) of the Bishop of Digne in Les Miserables. Only love and forgiveness can change people’s lives, and allowing ourselves to become instruments and conduits of God’s love imparts to sinners soul-changing grace.

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