“Abou Ben Adhem” by James Henry Leigh Hunt

This poem was one of the answers to the NYT crossword puzzle that I was working on today. Being unfamiliar with the poem, I found it online and read it.

I liked this poem a lot, essentially because the theme was simple and spiritual. Often, poetry requires a lot of work on the part of the reader to grasp the concepts being expressed. While I enjoy the satisfaction achieved from picking apart a poem and uncovering the hidden jewel, it is also enjoyable to read a poem once and grok what the writer is conveying.

In this poem, Ben Adhem encounters an angel who is making a list of people who love God. Ben Adhem’s name is not on the list, so he says: “I pray thee, then, / Write me as one that loves his fellow men.” The next evening, the angel returns and shows that Ben Adhem’s name is on the list. The message is clear and simple: all people have the spark of the divine within, and by acknowledging that spark and showing unconditional love to all people, you are thereby demonstrating love of God.

Click here to read the poem online.

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Filed under Literature, Spiritual

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