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

Solomon and the Ant

By Sir Edwin Arnold (1832–1904)

  • From ‘Pearls of the Faith’
  • Say Ar-Raheen! call Him “Compassionate,”
  • For He is pitiful to small and great.

  • ’TIS written that the serving angels stand

    Beside God’s throne, ten myriads on each hand,

    Waiting, with wings outstretched and watchful eyes,

    To do their Master’s heavenly embassies.

    Quicker than thought His high commands they read,

    Swifter than light to execute them speed;

    Bearing the word of power from star to star,

    Some hither and some thither, near and far.

    And unto these naught is too high or low,

    Too mean or mighty, if He wills it so;

    Neither is any creature, great or small,

    Beyond His pity, which embraceth all,

    Because His eye beholdeth all which are;

    Sees without search, and counteth without care.

    Nor lies the babe nearer the nursing-place

    Than Allah’s smallest child to Allah’s grace;

    Nor any ocean rolls so vast that He

    Forgets one wave of all that restless sea.

    Thus it is written; and moreover told

    How Gabriel, watching by the Gates of Gold,

    Heard from the Voice Ineffable this word

    Of twofold mandate uttered by the Lord:—

    “Go earthward! pass where Solomon hath made

    His pleasure-house, and sitteth there arrayed,

    Goodly and splendid—whom I crowned the king.

    For at this hour my servant doth a thing

    Unfitting: out of Nisibis there came

    A thousand steeds with nostrils all aflame

    And limbs of swiftness, prizes of the fight;

    Lo! these are led, for Solomon’s delight,

    Before the palace, where he gazeth now

    Filling his heart with pride at that brave show;

    So taken with the snorting and the tramp

    Of his war-horses, that Our silver lamp

    Of eve is swung in vain, Our warning Sun

    Will sink before his sunset-prayer’s begun;

    So shall the people say, ‘This king, our lord,

    Loves more the long-maned trophies of his sword

    Than the remembrance of his God!’ Go in!

    Save thou My faithful servant from such sin.

    “Also, upon the slope of Arafat,

    Beneath a lote-tree which is fallen flat,

    Toileth a yellow ant who carrieth home

    Food for her nest, but so far hath she come

    Her worn feet fail, and she will perish, caught

    In the falling rain; but thou, make the way naught,

    And help her to her people in the cleft

    Of the black rock.”
    Silently Gabriel left

    The Presence, and prevented the king’s sin,

    And holp the little ant at entering in.

    O Thou whose love is wide and great,

    We praise Thee, “The Compassionate.”