Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  After Death in Arabia

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Sir Edwin Arnold 1832–1904

After Death in Arabia


HE who died at Azan sends

This to comfort all his friends:

Faithful friends! It lies, I know,

Pale and white and cold as snow;

And ye say, “Abdallah ’s dead!”

Weeping at the feet and head.

I can see your falling tears,

I can hear your sighs and prayers;

Yet I smile and whisper this,—

“I am not the thing you kiss;

Cease your tears, and let it lie;

It was mine, it is not I.”

Sweet friends! What the women lave

For its last bed of the grave,

Is a tent which I am quitting,

Is a garment no more fitting,

Like a hawk my soul hath pass’d.

Love the inmate, not the room—

The wearer, not the garb,—the plume

Of the falcon, not the bars

Which kept him from these splendid stars.

Loving friends! Be wise, and dry

Straightway every weeping eye,—

What ye lift upon the bier

Is not worth a wistful tear.

Out of an empty sea-shell,—one

Out of which the pearl is gone;

The shell is broken, it lies there;

The pearl, the all, the soul, is here.

’T is an earthen jar, whose lid

Allah seal’d, the while it hid

That treasure of his treasury,

A mind that lov’d him; let it lie!

Let the shard be earth’s once more,

Since the gold shines in his store!

Allah glorious! Allah good!

Now thy world is understood;

Now the long, long wonder ends;

Yet ye weep, my erring friends,

While the man whom ye call dead,

In unspoken bliss, instead,

Lives and loves you; lost, ’t is true,

By such light as shines for you;

But in light ye cannot see

Of unfulfill’d felicity,—

In enlarging paradise,

Lives a life that never dies.

Farewell, friends! Yet not farewell;

Where I am, ye, too, shall dwell.

I am gone before your face,

A moment’s time, a little space.

When ye come where I have stepp’d

Ye will wonder why ye wept;

Ye will know, by wise love taught,

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 know, is that first breath

Which our souls draw when we enter

Life, which is of all life centre.

Be ye certain all seems love,

View’d from Allah’s throne above;

Be ye stout of heart, and come

Bravely onward to your home!

La Allah illa Allah! yea!

Thou love divine! Thou love alway!

He that died at Azan gave

This to those who made his grave.