Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hunt - Poetry

The next poem in the book is a new one for me.  It's titled 'Abou Ben Adhem' and it's written by Leigh Hunt, a poet whom I've never heard of.

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 though?"- 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 men."

The angel wrote and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

An interesting story.  Ben Adhem (an Arabic name?), loves his fellow men more than the Lord and on account of this is 'blest'.  I'm trying to work out why the angel visited him the first night.  To encourage him to love the Lord?  Clearly Ben Adhem must be a good man, or at least good to his fellow man.  When the angel visits on the second night, the message is that being good to your fellow man was good enough to receive God's blessings.  This seems a bit heavy handed.
How about the poetry of the piece?  It's a simple rhyme scheme, but if you pay attention to the line, the meaning of the phrases goes all to pot.  There isn't a phrase that really stands out to me either.  I can see why a poem like this would get attention, but it's not among my favorites.

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