Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
 
VI. Consolation
After Death in Arabia
From the Arabic
 
Translated by Sir Edwin Arnold

From “Pearls of the Faith”

  He made life—and He takes it—but instead
  Gives more: praise the Restorer, Al-Mu’hid!
 
HE who dies at Azan 1 sends
This to comfort faithful friends:—
 
Faithful friends! it lies, I know,        5
Pale and white and cold as snow;
And ye says, “Abdullah ’s dead!”
Weeping at my feet and head.
I can see your falling tears,
I can hear your cries and prayers,        10
Yet I smile and whisper this:—
“I am not that thing you kiss;
Cease your tears and let it lie:
It was mine, it is not I.”
 
Sweet friends! what the women lave        15
For its last bed in the grave
Is a tent which I am quitting,
Is a garment no more fitting,
Is a cage from which at last
Like a hawk my soul hath passed.        20
Love the inmate, not the room;
The wearer, not the garb; the plume
Of the falcon, not the bars
Which kept him from the splendid stars.
Loving friends! be wise, and dry        25
Straightway every weeping eye:
What ye lift upon the bier
Is not worth a wistful tear.
’T is an empty sea-shell, one
Out of which the pearl is gone.        30
The shell is broken, it lies there;
The pearl, the all, the soul, is here.
’T is an earthen jar whose lid
Allah sealed, the while it hid
That treasure of His treasury,        35
A mind which loved him: let it lie!
Let the shard be earth’s once more,
Since the gold shines in His store!
 
Allah Mu’hid, Allah most good!
Now thy grace is understood:        40
Now my heart no longer wonders
What Al-Barsakh is, which sunders
Life from death, and death from heaven:
Nor the “Paradises Seven”
Which the happy dead inherit;        45
Nor those “birds” which bear each spirit
Toward the Throne, “green birds and white,”
Radiant, glorious, swift their flight!
Now the long, long darkness ends.
Yet ye wail, my foolish friends,        50
While the man whom ye call “dead”
In unbroken bliss instead
Lives, and loves you: lost, ’t is true
By any light which shines for you;
But in light ye cannot see        55
Of unfulfilled felicity,
And enlarging Paradise;
Lives the life that never dies.
 
Farewell, friends! Yet not farewell;
Where I am, ye too shall dwell.        60
I am gone before your face
A heart-beat’s time, a gray ant’s pace.
When ye come where I have stepped,
Ye will marvel why ye wept;
Ye will know, by true love taught,        65
That here is all, and there is naught.
Weep awhile, if ye are fain,—
Sunshine still must follow rain!
Only not at death, for death—
Now I see—is that first breath        70
Which our souls draw when we enter
Life, that is of all life center.
 
Know ye Allah’s law is love,
Viewed from Allah’s Throne above;
Be ye firm of trust, and come        75
Faithful onward to your home!
“La Allah illa Allah! Yea,
Mu’hid! Restorer! Sovereign!” say!
 
He who died at Azan gave
This to those that made his grave.        80
 
Note 1. The hour of prayer; esteemed a blessed time to die. [back]
 
 
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