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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Tales of a Wayside Inn

Part Third. The Spanish Jew’s Tale: Azrael

KING SOLOMON, before his palace gate

At evening, on the pavement tessellate

Was walking with a stranger from the East,

Arrayed in rich attire as for a feast,

The mighty Runjeet-Sing, a learned man,

And Rajah of the realms of Hindostan.

And as they walked the guest became aware

Of a white figure in the twilight air,

Gazing intent, as one who with surprise

His form and features seemed to recognize;

And in a whisper to the king he said:

“What is you shape, that, pallid as the dead,

Is watching me, as if he sought to trace

In the dim light the features of my face?”

The king looked, and replied: “I know him well;

It is the Angel men call Azrael,

’T is the Death Angel; what hast thou to fear?”

And the guest answered: “Lest he should come near,

And speak to me, and take away my breath!

Save me from Azrael, save me from death!

O king, that hast dominion o’er the wind,

Bid it arise and bear me hence to Ind.”

The king gazed upward at the cloudless sky,

Whispered a word, and raised his hand on high,

And lo! the signet-rig of chrysoprase

On his uplifted finger seemed to blaze

With hidden fire, and rushing from the west

There came a mighty wind, and seized the guest

And lifted him from earth, and on they passed,

His shining garments streaming in the blast,

A silken banner o’er the walls upreared,

A purple cloud, that gleamed and disappeared.

Then said the Angel, smiling: “If this man

Be Rajah Runjeet-Sing of Hindostan,

Thou hast done well in listening to his prayer;

I was upon my way to seek him there.”