Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 27. AS-SAMI'H, by EDWIN ARNOLD

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 27. AS-SAMI'H, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Writes in his mesnevi, jelalu-'d-deen
Last Line: Our love inspire, and thine bestow.
Subject(s): God; Islam

As-Samî'h! Oh, Thou hearer! none can be
So far, his crying doth not come to Thee.

Writes in his Mesnevî, Jelâlu-'d-deen:
There came a man of Yaman, poor and old,
To Mecca, making pilgrimage; untaught,
A shepherd of the hills. Humble he trod
The six mikât, the stages of the Hadj;
Humbly indued the ihrâm, garb of faith
Which hath no seam; made due ablutions, kissed
The black stone; then three times with hastening feet
Circled the Kaabah, and four times paced
With slackened gait the tawâf, as is due,
(For such observances the Mollah taught).
But, when he bowed before the Holy Place,
Thus brake his soul from him, knowing no prayer,
Full of God's love, though ignorant of God:
"Oh, Master! Oh, my Sheikh! where tarriest Thou!
Show me Thy face that I may worship Thee,
May toil Thy servant, which I am in heart:
Ah! let me sew Thy shoes, anoint Thine hair,
Wash Thy soiled robes, and serve Thee daily up
My she-goats' freshest milk—I love Thee so!
Where hidest Thou, that I may kiss Thine hand,
Chafe Thy dear feet, and ere Thou takest rest—
In the gold sky, beside Thy sun, belike,
Among the soft-spread fleeces of Thy clouds—
Sweep out Thy chamber, oh, my joy, my King!"

Which hearing, thy who kept the shrine, incensed,
Had haled him to the gateway, crying, "Dog!
What blasphemy is this thou utterest,
Saying such things of Him That hath no needs
Of nourishment, nor clothing, nor repose,
Nor hands, nor feet, nor any form or frame;
That thou, base keeper of a silly herd,
Shouldst proffer service to the All-Powerful?
Meet were it that we stone thee dead with stones,
Who art accursed and injurious.
Begone! these holy walls are not for thee.'

So, sore abashed, that shepherd made to go.
Silent and weeping; but our Prophet marked,
And with mild eyes smiled on the man; then spake
To those that drave him forth: "Ye, when ye pray
Outside this holy place, in distant lands,
Whither turn ye your faces?" Each one said,
"Unto the Kaabah." "And when ye pray;
Within the blessèd precincts, pilgrims here,
Which way lies Mecca?" "All is sacred here,"
They answered, "and it matters nought which way."
"Lo, now ye reason well," replied our Lord;
"Inside the Kaabah it matters nought
Whither men turn; and in the secret place
Of perfect love for God, words are as breath
And will is all. This simple shepherd's prayer
Came unto Allah's ears clearer than yours,
Nathless his ignorance, because his heart—
Not tongue, not understanding—uttered it.
Make room for God's poor lover nighest me;
Good fellowship hath any man with him
To whom Heaven's ear as quick inclines itself
As doth a mother's when her babe lisps love."

Then were they sore asham&3232;d in that hour.

Hearer of hearts! As-Samî'h! so
Our love inspire, and Thine bestow.

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