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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

After Death

By Sir Edwin Arnold (1832–1904)

  • From ‘Pearls of the Faith’
  • He made life—and He takes it—but instead
  • Gives more: praise the Restorer, Al-Mu’hid!

  • HE who died at Azan sends

    This to comfort faithful friends:—

    Faithful friends! it lies, I know,

    Pale and white and cold as snow;

    And ye say, “Abdullah’s dead!”

    Weeping at my feet and head.

    I can see your falling tears,

    I can hear your cries and prayers,

    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

    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.

    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

    Straightway every weeping eye:

    What ye lift upon the bier

    Is not worth a wistful tear.

    ’Tis 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.

    ’Tis an earthen jar whose lid

    Allah sealed, the while it hid

    That treasure of His treasury,

    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:

    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;

    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,

    While the man whom ye call “dead”

    In unbroken bliss instead

    Lives, and loves you: lost, ’tis true

    By any light which shines for you;

    But in light ye cannot see

    Of unfulfilled felicity,

    And enlarging Paradise;

    Lives the life that never dies.

    Farewell, friends! Yet not farewell;

    Where I am, ye, too, shall dwell.

    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,

    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

    Which our souls draw when we enter

    Life, that is of all life centre.

    Know ye Allah’s law is love,

    Viewed from Allah’s Throne above;

    Be ye firm of trust, and come

    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.