Monday, January 18, 2021

Another poem

Continuing with The new Oxford Book of English Verse I come to Leigh Hunt (1784-1859). I started at the back of the book, so as I read I'm moving back in time. This one is familiar, although not read for a long time. 

Abou Ben Adhem
ABOU BEN ADHEM (may his tribe increase !)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
    "What writest thou?"—The vision rais'd its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answer'd, "The names of those who love the Lord."
    "And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."
    The angel wrote, and vanish'd. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And show'd the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

The new Oxford Book of English Verse was edited by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and originally published in 1900. The edition I have is a re-print of the "Revised and Enlarged" one that came out in 1918, thus including WWI. It was pretty dusty when I took it down. I hadn't looked in it for a long time.

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