Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
 
Poems of Sentiment: II. Life
Yussouf
James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)
 
A STRANGER came one night to Yussouf’s tent,
Saying, “Behold one outcast and in dread,
Against whose life the bow of power is bent,
Who flies, and hath not where to lay his head;
I come to thee for shelter and for food,        5
To Yussouf, called through all our tribes ‘The Good.’”
 
“This tent is mine,” said Yussouf, “but no more
Than it is God’s; come in, and be at peace;
Freely shalt thou partake of all my store
As I of his who buildeth over these        10
Our tents his glorious roof of night and day,
And at whose door none ever yet heard Nay.”
 
So Yussouf entertained his guest that night,
And, waking him ere day, said: “Here is gold,
My swiftest horse is saddled for thy flight,        15
Depart before the prying day grow bold.”
As one lamp lights another, nor grows less,
So nobleness enkindleth nobleness.
 
That inward light the stranger’s face made grand,
Which shines from all self-conquest; kneeling low,        20
He bowed his forehead upon Yussouf’s hand,
Sobbing: “O Sheik, I cannot leave thee so;
I will repay thee; all this thou hast done
Unto that Ibrahim who slew thy son!”
 
“Take thrice the gold,” said Yussouf, “for with thee        25
Into the desert, never to return,
My one black thought shall ride away from me;
First-born, for whom by day and night I yearn,
Balanced and just are all of God’s decrees;
Thou art avenged, my first-born, sleep in peace!”        30
 
 
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