Abou Ben Adhem

Another of Leigh Hunt‘s poems (see my yesterday’s blog post)was extremely popular in the early part of the 20th Century.  Its moral message became a means of passing on to young children a homily on how they should conduct their lives.  As such it was just the poem to encourage pupils in their school to commit to memory.  My mother, who I have mentioned in a previous blog . [  q.v. @  ( August 31st 2016 … ‘A Mother’s Legacy’)  ]  had a great love of poetry deriving largely from her having memorised many poems from her school-days.  She retained these in her memory throughout her life, and she loved to recite them as she went about the house doing her daily chores.  Because of this, and without consciously setting out to do so, I have memorised these poems myself.  I am still able to recall, as with ‘Barbara Frietchie’  (Follow the above link), word-for-word the whole of this poem . . .


Lanercost Priory, Norhtumbria . . .  Angel … Stained Glass – detail … by Burne-Jones  (1890)

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 cheerly 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 of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.