Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 78. AL-BARR, by EDWIN ARNOLD



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PEARLS OF THE FAITH: 78. AL-BARR, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Pity! For he is pitiful; - a king
Last Line: Ya barr! Good god! Show clemency.
Subject(s): Forgiveness; God; Islam; Clemency


Praise Him, Al-Barr! Whose goodness is so great;
Who is so loving and compassionate.

Pity! for He is Pitiful;—a king
Is likeliest Allah, not in triumphing
'Mid enemies o'erthrown, nor seated high
On stately gold, nor if the echoing sky
Rings with his name, but when sweet mercy sways
His words and deeds. The very best man prays
For Allah's help, since feeble are the best;
And never shall man reach th'angelic rest
Save by the vast compassion of Heaven's King.
Our Prophet once, Ayesha answering,
Spake this: "I shall not enter that pure place,
Even I, except through Allah's covering grace."
Even our Lord (on him be peace!); oh, see!
If he besought the Sovereign Clemency,
How must we supplicate it? Truly thus
Great need there is of Allah's grace for us.
And that we live compassionate
Hast seen
The record written of Salah-ud-Deen
The Sultan? How he met, upon a day,
In his own city on the public way,
A woman whom they led to die. The veil
Was stripped from off her weeping face, and pale
Her shamed cheeks were, and wild her dark fixed eye,
And her lips drawn with terror at the cry
Of the harsh people, and the rugged stones
Borne in their hands to break her flesh and bones;
For the law stood that sinners such as she
Perish by stoning, and this doom must be;
So went the wan adulteress to her death.
High noon it was, and the hot khamseen's breath
Blew from the desert sands and parched the town.
The crows gasped, and the kine went up and down
With lolling tongues: the camels moaned; a crowd
Pressed with their pitchers, wrangling high and loud,
About the tank; and one dog by a well,
Nigh dead with thirst, lay where he yelped and fell,
Glaring upon the water out of reach,
And praying succor in a silent speech,
So piteous were its eyes. Which when she saw,
This woman from her foot her shoe did draw,
Albeit death-sorrowful, and looping up
The long silk of her girdle, made a cup
Of the heel's hollow, and thus let it sink
Until it touched the cool black water's brink;
So filled th' embroidered shoe, and gave a draught
To the spent beast, which whined, and fawned, and quaffed
Her kind gift to the dregs; next licked her hand,
With such glad looks that all might understand
He held his life from her; then, at her feet
He followed close, all down the cruel street
Her one friend in that city.
But the king,
Riding within his litter, marked this thing,
And how the woman, on her way to die,
Had such compassion for the misery
Of that parched hound: "Take off her chain, and place
The veil once more above the sinner's face,
And lead her to her house in peace!" he said.
"The law is that the people stone thee dead
For that which thou hast wrought; but there is some,
Fawning around thy feet, a witness dumb,
Not heard upon thy trial; this brute beast
Testifies for thee, sister! whose weak breast
Death could not make ungentle. I hold rule
In Allah's stead, who is 'the Merciful,'
And hope for mercy; therefore go thou free—
I dare not show less pity unto thee!"

As we forgive—and more than we—
Ya Barr! good God! show clemency.





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