A Certain Testimony

A Mormon Epic


Those who argue that there is little good Mormon poetry would do well to read Paul Cracroft’s epic poem, A Certain Testimony. Although there have been claims of epic poetry among earlier Mormon writers, Cracroft’s is the first that fits the definition of epic accepted in literary circles: “A long narrative poem in elevated style presenting characters of high position in a series of adventures which form an organic whole through their relation to a central figure of heroic proportions and through their development of episodes important to the history of a nation or race.”

A Certain Testimony is a long narrative poem (over 15,000 lines) divided into twelve books like Virgil’s Aeneid (13,237 lines in Mandelbaum’s translation) and Milton’s Paradise Lost (10,546 lines). Although its style is elevated above that of everyday language, it is significantly less poetic than Milton’s. Reading through Paradise Lost, one often stops to savor its poetic beauty, but one finds few truly poetic passages to stop in A Certain Testimony.


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