Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 22. AL-BASIT, by EDWIN ARNOLD



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PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 22. AL-BASIT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: There died upon the miraj night
Last Line: His mercies to the justified.
Variant Title(s): Good Deeds
Subject(s): God; Islam


Yet He who shuts the gate, just wrath to wreak,
Unbars it, full of mercy, to the meek.

There died upon the Miraj night,
A man of Mecca, Amru hight;
Faithful and true, patient and pure,
Had been his years; he did endure
In war five spear-wounds, and in peace
Long journeying for his tribe's increase;
And ever of his gains he gave
Unto poor brethern—kind as brave:
But these forsook, and age and toil
Drained the strong heart as flames drink oil;
Till, lone and friendless, gray and spent—
A thorn-tree's shadow for his tent,
And desert sand for dying-bed—
Amru the camel-man lay dead.

What is it that the Hadîth saith?
Even while the true eyes glazed in death,
And the warm heart wearied, and beat
The last drum of its long defeat,
An Angel, lighting on the sand,
Took Amru's spirit by the hand,
And gently spake, "Dear brother, come!
A sore road thou didst journey home;
But life's dry desert thou hast passed,
And Zem-Zem sparkles nigh at last,"
Then with swift flight those twain did rise
Unto the gates of Paradise,
Which opened, and the Angel gave
A golden 'granate, saying, "Cleave
This fruit, my brother!" But its scent
So heavenly seemed, and so intent,
So rapt was Amru, to behold
The great fruit's rind of blushing gold
And emerald leaves—he dared not touch,
Murmuring, "Oh, Mâlik! 'tis too much
That I am here, with eyes so dim,
And grace all fled." Then bade they him
Gaze in the stream which glided stilly,
'Mid water-roses and white lily,
Under those lawns and smiling skies
That make delight in Paradise;
When, lo! the presence imaged there
Was of such comeliness, no peer
Among those glorious Angels stood
To Amru, mirrored in the flood.

"I! is it I?" he cried in gladness,
"Am I so changed from toil and sadness?"
"This was thy hidden self," replied
The Angels. "So shalt thou abide
By our bright river evermore,
And in that fair fruit's secret core—
Which on the Tree of Life hath grown—
Another marvel shall be shown.
Ah, happy Amru! cleave!" He clove:—
Sweet miracle of bliss and love!
Forth from the pomegranate there grew,
As from its bud a rose breaks through,
A lovely, stately, lustrous maid,
Whose black orbs long silk lashes shade,
Whose beauty was so rich to see
No verse can tell it worthily;
Nor is there found in any place
One like her for the perfect grace
Of soft arms wreathed and ripe lips moving
In accents musical and loving;
For thus she spake: "Peace be to thee,
My Amru!" Then, with quick cry, he:
"Who art thou, blessèd one? What name
Wearest thou? Teach my tongue to frame
This worship of my heart." Said she,
"Thy good deeds gave me being: see,
If in my beauty thou hast pleasure,
How the Most High doth truly treasure
Joy for his servants. Murzieh I—
She that doth love and satisfy—
And I am made by Allah's hand
Of ambergris and musk, to stand
Beside thee, soothing thee, and tending
In comfort and in peace unending."

So hand in hand, 'tis writ, they went
To those bright bowers of high content.

Al-Bâsit! thus He opens wide
His mercies to the justified.





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