Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 15. AL-GHAFFAR, by EDWIN ARNOLD



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PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 15. AL-GHAFFAR, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Once, it is written, abraham, 'god's friend'
Last Line: Forgiven, if thou wert as we?
Variant Title(s): Abraham's Offense
Subject(s): Forgiveness; God; Islam; Clemency


Al-Ghaffâr, the "Forgiver," praise thereby
Thy Lord who is so full of clemency.

Once, it is written, Abraham, "God's Friend,"
Angered his Lord; for there had ridden in
Across the burning yellow desert-flats
An agèd man, haggard with two days' drouth,
The waterskin swung from his saddle-fork
Wrinkled and dry; the dust clove to his lids,
And clogged his beard; his parched tongue and black lips
Moved to say, "Give me a drink," yet uttered nought;
And that gaunt camel which he rode upon,
Sank to the earth at entering of the camp,
Too spent except to lay its neck along
The sand, and moan.
To whom when they had given
The cool wet jar, asweat with diamond-drops
Of sparkling life, that wayworn Arab laved
The muzzle of his beast, and filled her mouth;
Then westward turned with bloodshot, worshiping eyes,
Pouring forth water to the setting orb:
Next, would have drunk, but Abraham saw, and said,
"Let not this unbeliever drink, who pours
God's gift of water forth unto the sun,
Which is but creature of the living Lord."

But while the man still clutched the precious jar,
Striving to quaff, a form of grace drew nigh,—
Beauteous, majestic. If he came afoot,
None knew, or if he glided from the sky.
With gentle air he filled a gourd and gave
The man to drink, and Abraham—in wrath
That one should disobey him in his tents—
Made to forbid; when full upon him smote
Eyes of divine light, eyes of high rebuke—
For this was Michael, Allah's messenger:
"Lo! God reproveth thee, thou Friend of God!
Forbiddest thou gift of the common stream
To this idolater, spent with the heat,
Who, in his utmost need, watered his beast,
And bowed the knee in reverence, ere he drank?
Allah hath borne with him these three-score years,
Bestowed upon him corn and wine, and made
His household fruitful and his herds increase;
And find'st thou not patience to pity him
Whom God hath pitied, waiting for the end.
Since none save He wotteth what end will come,
Or who shall find the light. Thou art rebuked!
Seek pardon! for thou hast much need to seek."

Thereat the angel vanished, as he came;
But Abraham, with humbled countenance,
Kissed reverently the heathen's hand, and spake—
Leading him to the chief seat in the tent—
"God pardon me, as He doth pardon thee!"

Long-suffering Lord! ah, who should be
Forgiven, if Thou wert as we?





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