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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Introductory to Arabia

He Who Died at Azim

By From the Arabic

Translated by E. Arnold

HE who died at Azim 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 the last sleep of the grave,

Is a hut which I am quitting,

Is a garment no more fitting,

Is a cage from which, at last,

Like a bird, my soul hath passed.

Love the inmate, not the room,

The wearer, not the garb,—the plume

Of the eagle, not the bars

That kept him from those splendid stars.

Loving friends! Be wise and dry

Straightway every weeping eye:

What ye lift upon the bier

Is not worth a single tear.

’T is an empty sea-shell,—one

Out of which the pearl has gone:

The shell is broken, it lies there;

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

’T is an earthen jar, whose lid

Allah sealed, the while it hid

That treasure of his treasury,

A mind that loved him: let it lie!

Let the shards be earth’s once more,

Since the gold is in his store!

Allah glorious! Allah good!

Now thy world is understood;

Now the long, long wonder ends;

Yet ye weep, my foolish friends,

While the man whom ye call dead,

In unspoken bliss, instead,

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

For the light that shines for you:

But in the light ye cannot see

Of undisturbed felicity,—

In a perfect paradise,

And a life that never dies.

Farewell, friends! But not farewell;

Where I am, ye too shall dwell.

I am gone before your face,

A moment’s worth, a little space.

When ye come where I have stepped,

Ye will wonder 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 we 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,

Viewed from Allah’s throne above;

Be ye stout of heart, and come

Bravely onward to your home!

La il Allah! Allah la!

O love divine! O love alway!

He who died at Azim gave

This to those who made his grave.