Do you know how sometimes you cherish something, neatly tuck it into the folds of your memory, and then overtime it gets lost ? Something triggers and a gentle flutter lets you know, although vague, its still in there somewhere.
That’s what happened to me recently when someone wrote of a poem I learnt at school many years ago….something about an Arab (?) – and a tribe !! So I went searching and found it again, that special poem I had tucked into my memory as a keepsake to cherish.
Joy ! You know the feeling you get when you find your misplaced keys, just magnify that by 10 ! It was as if someone had struck a resonant cord on a big bass guitar that vibrated through my soul, sheer delight!
The poem was written by Leigh Hunt in the 1800’s and not regarded as any great literary feat of the time yet here it is, 200 or so years later still giving insight and delight. That surely must be a mark of the extraordinary ?
Little snippets about the poet., – from http://www.poetryfoundation.org
Leigh Hunt was a centre figure of the Romantic movement in England in the 19th century but he was not, as he wished to be and knew the was not, one of its great poets.
He was a master of mood and atmosphere. Rather than having depth and passion, his poetry is imbued with the spirit of cheerfulness, which make it pleasant but not great.
He devoted his entire life to literature, writing several volumes of poetry, many essays a handful of plays and a novel, as well as making other literary contributions as a critic, editor and encourage of young writers.
Abou Ben Adhem first published in 1838 is a simple poem bearing the theme that to love man is the same as to love God. It also includes the line used as Hunts epitaph. “Write me as one who loves his fellow man”
Here for you to enjoy is the poem that I had lost, and now is found, and speaks so simply, yet so profoundly on the priorities of a life well lived. Like me, I hope it will settle your soul and let you know that in spite of everything going on around us, all is well.
ABOU BEN ADHEM
Abou Ben Adem, (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 raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “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 man”
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo ! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.