Sunday, May 15, 2016

Corny It May Be . . . But . . .

Abou Ben Adhem
By Leigh Hunt

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 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 shower the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

This poem, one I learned in grade school, has been rattling around my head. Yes, it's old-fashioned, sentimental sing-song (one reason I still remember it) and a real poet would dismiss it out of hand.

But I (a non- believer) still like the point it makes and wish we had more Abou ben Adhems around. I suspect that it's a lot harder to love one's ornery, sweaty, troubled and often irrational fellow men  than it is to love the idea of God.


jennyfreckles said...

I don't know the verse but, as much poetry does, it distills a lot into a few choice words. I have to agree and sometimes it seems those who trumpet most about 'loving God' are the worst at caring for their fellow humans.

Ms. A said...

I memorized this one in school, too, but these days I can only remember the first few lines.

daybreak said...

Amen, Vicki, AMEN! A friend and I have been discussing the "praying on street corners" passage in Matthew...........since there has been way too much of that and nary a "do unto others" type of behavior. The world, if only in the blogosphere, is blessed by your ability and willingness to bring up important topics.

Frances said...

Vicki, that poem was new to me, and so I thank you for the introduction.

Even when tested, I do try to cling to the Golden Rule.


Jime said...

I am a non believer also, but I have a favorite Saint, Saint Francis and his prayer. "Lord make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hate let me sow love........"

The problem with all of this is making a third party responsible for our behavior. Being a non believer puts the burden squarely on your own shoulders. Our parents and society start us out with a moral code but it is up to us to take full responsibility for our actions. Asking yourself for forgiveness and getting it is one HELL of a lot harder than asking a god.

Anvilcloud said...

Grade school? Me too.