Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 76. YA WALI, by EDWIN ARNOLD



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PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 76. YA WALI, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Wot ye of solomon's signet, graved of a sapphire in gold
Last Line: True knowledge of thee, as thou art.
Variant Title(s): Solomon's Signet
Subject(s): God; Islam


Laud Him who governs governors and kings,
Angels, and Djins, and men, and living things.

Wot ye of Solomon's signet, graved of a sapphire in gold,
Graved with the great name of God, writ on the blue of the stone?
Wisdom and riches and power had he who that treasure did hold:
Safe in the strength of the signet he sate on his ivory throne.

Only King Solomon knew how the dread letters did flow,
What was the breathing of Aleph, where came the whispering Yod;
When he spake the ineffable Word, the sea-winds at bidding would blow;
And the hills yield their iron, and jewels, and gold, at the naming of God.

And out of the void of the sky, and up from the gulfs and the capes,
And forth from the caverns of earth, and down from the mountains of flame,
Flocked Demons with wonderful wings, and Ifreet of horrible shape,
And Djins, with red eyes, made of fire; Divs, Peris, and Giants, they came.

They came, at the call of the name, from Kâf, that engirdles the seas;
From the gloom of the tombs in the graveyard, from ruins on desolate ground;
From the pool and the marsh and the forest; from poisonous blossoms and
trees;—
Monstrous or dwarfish,—constrained, enchained, subdued by a sound;

The sound of the title of Allah, spoken so as the Angels speak:—
Nor spirits uncomely, only, and evil; ethereal bands
Thronged down from their heavenly houses, the Great King's service to seek,
Hearing that nameless Name which all things living commands.

And the fowl and the beasts were fain to gather, each creature by each,
When Solomon summoned hereby, pronouncing the mystical words.
Moreover, their dumb mouths opened, and the fly and the bee had a speech;
And he knew the heart of the lions, and learned the mind of the birds.

Thus is it writ how he marched by Tayf from the Syrian land
Through the "Valley of Ants" and heard the cry of that people of clay,
"Hide ye! hide in the earth! for there passeth Solomon's band;
We are many and wise, but we die, if the king's foot cometh this way."

And he laughed, but leaped to the ground, and bowed his forehead and said,
"Oh, Lord God! grant me to learn from the ant the wit to be meek.
I am many and strong, and a king; yet Thou canst instantly tread
The pride of this earth to dust, and the strongest to Thee are but weak!"

Then he viewed the birds, and cried, "I see not amongst ye here
Al-Hudhud, the crested lapwing; what doth she to linger away?
Ill shall it fall for her, who seeketh us water clear,
If she find not a fountain for prayers before the ending of day!

But they tarried not long until the whirr of her speckled wings
Brought unto Solomon's feet the crested lapwing, who spake,
"I have seen a queen that is greater than any save thee, on King!
In Seba she reigneth majestic, and glorious king ship doth make.

"There hath she a marvelous throne of silver, figured with gold,
And the head of the throne is a moon in a jasper and emerald curve,
For her people worship the moon." And Solomon answered, "Behold!
Little bird! if thou liest not, this queen shall the Merciful serve!"

Thereafter the massage went from the servant of God, the king:
"Solomon, son of David, to Balkis, queen of the south:
Peace be to them that follow the Name upon Solomon's ring;
Yield thee, and worship Allah; cursed is the idolatrous mouth."

Then Balkis sent him gifts, of gold bricks, yellow and red; And beautiful
slaves five hundred, with amber and musk; and a gem
Drilled with a crooked hole, which never a goldsmith could thread;
And a topaz of price, unpierced, and a diamond diadem.

He bade the sea-worm eat a way through the unpierced stone;
And the little and carry a thread through the ruby's crooked drill.
"Doth she offer to Solomon gifts?" quoth he, on his ivory throne,
"We are richer than Seba's kingdom! By Allah!" said he, "I will

"That one of my slaves bring hither Queen Balkis' jeweled seat;
Thereby she shall learn that the glory is ours, and the knowledge and might."
Then Asaf, the wise, commanded, and a Djin spread his pinions fleet,
And brought the moon-throne thither, and set it before them aright.

In a guarded house she had shut it, which a thousand bowmen kept,
But when she was come to Salem, lo! Solomon the king
Sate there on her own gold seat, and Balkis bowed her and wept,
Saying, 'I pray thee, teach me the Name on thy signet ring!

'We have sinned against our souls, following lower Lords;
Our kingdom we give, and our goods, and our lives, and our spirits to thine."

Such worship had he of old who knew Al-Wâli's words
Which rule the rulers, and knew the sound of the Name Divine.

Ya Wâli! Gracious Lord! impart
True knowledge of Thee, as Thou art.





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