Strangers and Pilgrims

Season 1 – Death of the Prophet Joseph Smith

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Why The Website (was) PierianThing.com

NOTE: Before the website for my podcast was pilgrimspodcast.com it was pierianthing.com -- before I changed it, though, I had already written this blog post.  I like it, so, I'm not taking it down.

I have always loved the section of Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism where he talks about the Pierian Spring.  In that section he says:

A little learning is a dang'rous thing;

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:

There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,

And drinking largely sobers us again

As I was researching the story of the Death of Joseph Smith for Season 1 of this podcast I discovered that Joseph Smith also liked this section of Alexander Pope's poem.  He actually quoted it twice in the last 3 months of his life.

I would love to go back and figure out where he first learned about the poem.  It must've been towards his death, since I can only find these two references.

The first time Joseph quotes this section of Pope's poem is in a meeting on March 7, 1844.  He uses the poem in a speech where he is criticizing Nauvoo lawyers regarding maritime law.

He says, regarding those lawyers:

"they have never stuck their noses into a book on maritime law in their lives, and, as Pope says: -- Shallow draughts intoxicate the brain; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring."

The second time Joseph quotes the poem is on June 16, 1844.  He uses the poem when he is teaching on the plurality of Gods.

He says, regarding that subject:

"I want to show a little learning as well as other fools -- A little learning is a dangerous thing.  Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.  There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again.  All this confusion among professed translators is for want of drinking another draught."

I named the website that hosts my podcast pierianthing.com because pierianspring.com was taken.  And, because "thing" is the word that Pope used to rhyme with "spring" in his poem.

And, I really like the idea that a little learning can give you a false idea, but a lot of learning can set you back on the right course.  And, I was hoping that, in my telling of the story of the Death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, that first of all people would find an entertaining story.  And, second of all, as people listen to the story, that even though it is not an exhaustive resource on Joseph's death, that it would be a "large drink" to them, in which they could learn more about history and Joseph's life.