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Abou Ben Adhem -- James Leigh Hunt

(Poem #153) Abou Ben Adhem
 Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
 Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
 And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
 Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
 An Angel writing in a book of gold:

 Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
 And to the Presence in the room he said,
 "What writest thou?" The Vision raised its head,
 And with a look made of all sweet accord
 Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."

 "And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
 Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
 But cheerily still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
 Write me as one who loves his fellow men."

 The Angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
 It came again with a great wakening light,
 And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
 And, lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest!
-- James Leigh Hunt
There's really nothing this poem needs said about it. It is - and I mean
this is a strictly positive sense - a simple poem; Hunt takes a
straightforward story and renders it in enjoyable verse, uncomplicated by
hidden meanings or stylistic tricks. It's also an extremely well known poem
- the latter due at least in part to its being inflicted upon countless
generations of schoolchildren[1].

Wodehouse devotees will doubtless recognise the poem as being well-loved by

[1] The young Isaac Asimov once got himself into trouble for, when asked why
Ben Adhem's name led all the rest, waving his hand wildly and answering
'alphabetical order', a spirited but unappreciated stand against the
belabouring of the obvious.

Biography etc:

See poem #103

265 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

«Oldest   ‹Older   1 – 200 of 265   Newer›   Newest»
Amit Chakrabarti said...

About time this chestnut appeared on this list, eh? I've always
had (still do) one crib about this poem. It is overwhelmingly
didactic. But perhaps the use of this poem as a good lesson to be
taught to kids colours my opinion here.

harry posey said...

I adore this poem. Being American educated, it was not "inflicted" upon me
and I had never heard of Leigh Hunt. I'm trying to find out more about the
background of the poem and its seemingly Arabian slant.

Ray.Mills said...

Hope by "date" you don't mean the date the poem was written. Abou ben
Adhem is certainly older than that. RM

Julia Spencer said...

I learned this poem as a child in school in ala.It always gave me a sense of contentment, too bad the children of today are not blessed with literary works such as this.

ShawnSkg said...

I had a dream about the Abou Tribe and I am looking for any infromation you
could share with me about what it is or was, or any readings that could
answer my questions. Thank you!


BW said...

Some 60 years ago, my mother used to recite this poem to me as a
boy. I recall that it was a source of wonder and comfort to me
in times that were generally hard. As the years passed, I
forgot some of the words, but never the feelings which the poem
inspired. Until a few days ago, I was not aware of the name of
the poet or the extent to which the poem was known. Now that I
know and can see the verse because of this website, it's like
hearing my mother again. Thank you.

Waranowitz Ben said...

I agree with most about this poem, which I first heard in 5th grade. It was
many years later when I was assisted by a librarian who found it, but first
came across this poem by a person named Bothroyd:

Abou Ben Adhem's name led all the rest..
Prompting a thesis, quite hypothethetical,
That even recording angels find it best,
To keep us Hypothetical.

- Bothroyd

Adarsh Kadambi said...

I can never thank you enough for having put up this poem on your web
site.!...I still remember my 3rd standard English teacher reciting this
poem to us and explaining it in all detail. Like some one else on this
list has already mentioned, the feeling that this poem inspired in me
,some 15 odd years ago, still live on!. Actually, I was in search of the
words...and to predicament, didn't know the author's name. Amazing, not
many of us on this list remember the author (bless him! ) of such a
wonderful poem!
Aadarsh Kadambi

Irvine Churchward said...

My sincere thanks for listing this poem on the Web. It is the only poem of
many that I learned at school some 50 years ago that I remember most of the
words of. I only had two lines wrong. It is a family joke of ours (a bit
irreverent I suppose) that I would hold my children and make them sit
through a few renditions of Abou Ben Adhem as a punishment but usually just
for fun.
It is a very special poem to me. Thanks again.


Waranowitz Ben said...

I made an error in the last line, corrected here:

Abou Ben Adhem's name led all the rest..
Prompting a thesis, quite hypothethetical,
That even recording angels find it best,
To keep us alphabetical.
- Bothroyd

Martha Crocker said...

I have the greatest pleasure of being able to spend time with my mother (86
years old). I am an executive recruiter and was speaking with a Candidate
of mine and shared with him the information that I was writing my mother's
memoirs. Mom grew up in Bronx, his dad in Manhattan, and we soon discovered
that both had to memorize this poem, which became an all time favorite of
both. Even at 86 Mom remembers every word.

Martha Crocker
IMPACT Search and Strategies
1124 Richmond Road
Litchfield, Maine

Hsmith1970m said...

I'm in the process of Reading "The Nicholas Effect" by Reg Green , a fathers
story of the impact that was made on thw word after the lost of his Child.
This Poem was mwantioned in the Book, and I've never heard of it, before now,
but it well be a poem, I use with the Children in my life.

Thank You

AM said...

I'm Spanish. It's only a few days ago I've discovered this poem. I open wide my eyes and ears on reading it. Just to say it's a wonderful poem, as it whispers to me my inner child.



Chauncey Adams said...

This Poem inspired my wife and I to name our son Ben Adams, now getting his Ph.D. in Psychology at Columbia University.

SmithMS10000 said...

I just had to add to the chorus my almost total recall of this poem which I
had to memorize. I don't even remember the grade, possibly 5th, which would
have been around 1954. Strange I can remember that stuff and can't remember
what happened yesterday!

Clark Whetten said...

I'm using this poem in a eulogy that I am preparing for my father in law. Didactic or not, it still brings tears to my eyes every time I recite it. I imagine making school children memorize it speaks for the quality of education that was existent in the old days that is non-existent now. Can't have the little dears strain their brains now can we.

Clark Whetten

Gopal R (BLR) said...

Like most others who have commented on this poem, i too had the pleasure (or
was it really, when we had to memorise & repeat) of re-reading this after
many years. Strangely, just after reading 2 lines, the whole poem came back
to me in an instant.

Truly, only later in life, does one really appreciate the quality of
education we had earlier.

Thank you for putting this up.

bangalore, india

Paul Nay said...

Moving to find this poem today after reading the report of the Iraqi who
helped rescue Pfc Jessica Lynch. It would be interesting to rate
cultures, religions, and countries by the proportion of Abou ben Admens
they produce. In fact, what better claim to respect is there?

Paul Nay
Santa Barbara, California, USA

Olderbart said...

The Iraqian attorney (and his nurse wife) - whose compassion at the sight of
Jessica Lynch getting knocked around led him to the rescue machinery - is the
2003 real time version of Abou Ben Adhem. I don't believe many people under
40 know this poem. It would be good to see the parallel drawn in the press.



What a joy to see this poem again. I had to memorize it at St. Cecilia's
Academy in Scranton, Pa. many many years ago. (I'm 83!) For some reason it
popped into my head recently & I couldn't get it out of my mind.. Finding it
on the web was wonderful & brought back many happy memories. Thank you SO
much.... Siobhanfromnj

dworkinla said...

yes I had to memorize this one too-I still love it
a great poem--would make a great addition to any childhood education and
an even better one to adult refresher education. imho

Arlene said...

Thank you so much for including this wonderful poem, I too have memories of grade school some 50 plus years ago and never had it please me more than today,,
will pass it on,,,,Arlene

EasilyAmusedGirl said...

Wow, I was doing a project and I get to choose any poem I want by Leigh Hunt.
I am inspired by how this has inspired all of you. Thanks for making a
late-night cram session more enjoyable


Thank you so much for posting this poem. I have read all of the comments and can agree with most. My grandfather read this poem to my cousin and myself as young children, and to hear him tell this poem was the best part of the day. He has been gone for quite some time now, however, this poem has never left my mind. My husband and I are pregnant with our first child, and immediately I remembered the poem. This is a classic poem, one that I want to pass on to my children to allow the memory of my grandfather to live on. My heart is full of joy, thank you.

Tamer Miriam said...

My father, a life long atheist/agnostic, gave each of us, his children, a book of poems which included Abou. After having worked for peace and understanding all his life including all the peace walks, sit ins, and gatherings of the 60's, this poem will be read as a tribute to him at the memorial service we are having in a few days. It certainly speaks volumes.

A.H. Marks said...

Dear Sitaram Iyer:

Has anyone pointed out that Abou Ben Adhem's name might very well have led all the rest if the names on the list were given in alphabetical order? Leigh Hunt wrote at a time when jokes of this kind were not unusual in English poetry.

Alfred H. Marks

Martin DeMello said...

--- "A.H. Marks" wrote:
> Dear Sitaram Iyer:
> Has anyone pointed out that Abou Ben Adhem's name might very well have led
> all the rest if the names on the list were given in alphabetical order?
> Leigh Hunt wrote at a time when jokes of this kind were not unusual in
> English poetry.

Isaac Asimov did - I mentioned the fact in my original commentary :) I must
say, though, that I didn't think of it being deliberate on Hunt's part -
excellent point, that. Interestingly, it would hold true even in Arabic, since
alif is the first letter of the alphabet.


Grady W Eaton said...

Been Curious about "ABOU" for a long time. Late 40's is when I had to make a stab at memorizing this one. YES! In School, no less! Us gutter- minded teen-agers had our own version which was a lot easier to recite. Thanks for having this available .

gene oshea said...

My DA is 87 years old and lives in the States. Both he and my late mother were born and raised in Ireland. Visiting with my Da today in his garden he had a small stone angel sitting reading from a book. He said "you know when I was a child I had to memorize a poem about some Abou Ben Adhem. Lines of the poem keep going through my head now but I can't remember all of it. I loved it so much. all I remember is -" then he went on to recite the 1st 9 lines of the poem. He wondered how he could ever remember the rest. I cam home and of course this site popped up on an internet Search. I have read the various comments and am touched my them. I can only say me Da too is a witness as to its long lasting power. And perhaps its return to many in later life.
Peace to All.
Gene O'

Mary McCann said...

When other little girls were read fairy tales at bedtime, night after night, my father recited Abou Ben Adhem & The Gettysburg Address to me. I grew up with a vision of the world our sacrifices can build for our children. I think I have a deeper inner peace, because of the beliefs my father framed for me with those words. As Always Am2Mc

Auggie & Sally said...

From: Sally Petersen

While visiting my mother (at age 92, with dementia) in her nursing home, during a "Sing a long" she got up and was able to recite this wonderful poem with just a few words missing. I love this poem and like a few others could not remember the authors name but finally found it and was able to print this poem for a very dear friend of mine that was just diagnosed with cancer. I read the comments above and do not feel the author meant for Abou's name to lead all the rest
for alphabetical reasons at all.

Dundore David said...

Hi Shawn,

'Abou' means 'father of' in Arabic, and 'ben Adhem' means 'of the tribe of
Adam.' So I believe that the name is an idiosyncrasy, meaning "A father from
the tribe of Adam' which could be about any one of us.

alison.austin said...

I was delighted to find your website. I am fortunate enough to own the collected works of James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784-1859), in 2 volumes , first editions published in 1859. They are full of wonderful poems, but this is my favourite too

Jewell said...

I noticed someone said that they had not had the poem "inflicted" on them. I had
to memorize it in school, but I feel very fortunate that I did; I have refereed
to it often, even though I could not remember all the words. Thank you for your
site. I enjoyed roving through it.

Ruby Rose

David Upton said...

I had to memorize this poem when I was 7 and in the second grade. I am now 56 and can still recite much of it.

Fr David Upton
St Andrew's Episcopal Church
400 Pendleton St
Greenville SCOM)

Rachel Jenkins said...

I learned this poem in school in the 6th grade (1951-52) in Indiana. Bless
the teacher who gave it to me to memorize. It is the only poem that has
stuck with me - always a favorite for its simple meaning.

Bjoycebeme said...

Even if Abou Ben Adhem's name led the rest because of alphabetical order, it
is still noteworthy that it made that particular list and obviously in
response to his statement the previous night.

Kashif Adhami said...

I am one of his tribe members, which has been
increasing since his days and with many bounties from
the Almighty. Our parents and grandparents have told
us many stories of our ancestor, and the main idea
behind each one them was to make us understand that
"God loves those who show respect and love for God's
creatures", Leigh Hunt in his poem "ABOU BEN ADHEM"
more then the persona of ABOU BEN ADHEM, is trying
teach us the same.

Julie Carrara said...

Isn't it amazing how the poem Abou ben Adhem comes back to one after so
many years? I memorized it as a child and have remembered almost all of
it, except for a few lines. How wonderful to have found it all here.
Yes, we did get a wonderful education in those days. I am 62 now, and
memorized this in fifth grade in El Paso, Texas. Charlene

Julie Carrara said...

I love this poem, as you do. It is something I learned in fifth grade,
(I am now 62) and it has recently been going through my head. I
remembered much of it, even the spelling of the title, but was missing a
few lines. A friend suggested I look it up on the internet, and lo and
behold it is here. Wonderful!. Now I have it all. Charlene Lord

Jane H. King said...

My dad was born in 1910. He taught me this poem and one about a Pretty Chicken before I entered school. I am now trying to keep my mind alive and well -- I'm giving poetry recitations and have included both of these. Thanks to all who made their comments and to the site for choosing this poem - whatever the reason might have been for Ben Adhem's name to lead the rest. Jane
Heart for the Harvest Promoting Shared Witness and Ministry with Hispanic Persons

Jane H. King
Consultant to Hispanic/Latino Ministry Northwest Texas Annual Conference, UMC
1415 Avenue M
mobile:Powered by Plaxo Want a signature like this?

Add me to your address book...

Blanchard Rosemary A said...

Maybe it says something about American education in the 50's and early
60's, but I was never introduced to this poem in school - either as a
verse to memorize or even a verse to think about. Fortunately, my
mother had a much more centered idea of what was important than the
local public school. I can hear the gentle sound that came over her
voice as she would recite or read it to me (she did both). Her tone
made it sound wonderful (which it is). I was thinking about it tonight
and ran an internet search. I've enjoyed your list of comments. This
is a gentle, wise little poem.

Rosemary Ann Blanchard

Sacramento, CA 95819

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education. All politics can do
is keep us out of war.

Maria Montessori

Mike White said...

I am 59 and a grandfather
Everyone in my class was given a poetry book by my high school teacher in England and told to pick a poem to learn and later recite as part of a test. I picked "Abou Ben Adhem".
I ws practising at home when my mother (now 80) came into the room and started reciting it. In her day at high school, she had also been given a poetry book to pick a poem from and had chosen the same poem.
I have used this poem as a creed to live with and have endeavoured to teach the poem both as a poem and as a creed to my children.
Michael C F White, Los Angeles, June 2004

liz keefer said...

Abou was "inflicted" on my mother and was a recitation in grade school. Mom passed away in 2001 and in her last week on earth still could recite Abou.Sometimes over the years she had to pause until the words came but the words were always there.I printed your page for my memory book.Thank You, Liz Keefer

Harriett Gray said...

From two old ladies in their eighties:

My friend called last night and said: "Do you remember a poem that began -

Abou Ben Adam may his tribe increase and I answered:

Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace!

We both had it reappear from long ago in grade school and now what a thrill
to find all this info here on the Web - I am copying the poem to send to my
friend - thank you.

Rocktapper said...

Abou Ben Adham.... this is a poem for humanity not to forget there Lord.
Abou Ben Adhem in Arabic means Children of Adam.... this has a very Islamic
message and style in writing. But its message goes out to all people who
believe in a higher being!

GJgaudia said...

Funny, but as an atheist I see this poem (which I learned in P.S. 48 in the
Bronx around 1937) as a statement about Humanism more than God. I have always
wondered why my Catholic Irish-spinster teachers wanted us to learn it since
it seems more secular than theistic. Anyway, I awoke this morning "from a deep
dream of peace" thinking of Abou Ben Adam and had to consult Google to find
out more about it.

Chellappa Mallika (Mallika) said...

And then there's the parody by Cracked Magazine
(circa 60s/70s)
Sylvester Ben Janitor, may his tribe decrease
Awoke one night from a deep dream of geese
And saw, within the gaslight in his room
Making it rich, and like crabgrass in bloom
A Clod, writing in a book of gold
An exceptional line had made Ben Janitor bold
And to the Clod in the room he said
"Wha-a-a-a? " The Clod raised its head
And, with a look that was racked
Answered, "I write the names of those who love Cracked"
"And is mine one?" saind Sylvester. "No"
Said the Clod. Sylvester spoke more low
But drearily still, and said, "If it's not stacked
Write me as one that's a lover of Cracked."
The Clod wrote and vanished. The next night
He came again in a great mazda of light
And showed the names of those who thought Cracked was fun
And Lo - Syvester's was the only one!

This may have mistakes. Please excuse.

Was reminded of this when a fellow Minstrels
member sent me the Mad parody of Hiawatha.


B said...

Osama ben Laden

Osama ben Laden (his tribe did much increase) Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace

And saw within the stillness of his room Making it rich as a lily in bloom

A houri writing in a book of gold. Exceeding peace had made ben Laden bold

And to the presence in his room, he said "What writest thou?"

The houri raised her head And with a look of all sweet accord

"The names of those who love Allah (the Lord)."

"And is mine one?". asked Osama. "Nay not so". replied the houri.

Osama spoke more low but cheerily still "Write me as one who loves to kill."

The houri wrote and vanished. The next night she came again in a bright blaze of light

And showed the names of those whom Allah has kissed And, Lo! ben Ahdem's name's not on the list.

Raman Juanita said...

This poem was not inflicted on me. As a 7th-grader in Canada, more than
50 years ago, I inflicted it on myself when we were assigned to memorize
any poem in our book that we wished. I have never ceased to love it but
could not recall the words "But cheerily still." Thank you for supplying
them! I wept, right here at my desk, reading through the whole poem AND
the comments submitted. (Incidentally, BW, my mother used to recite the
last lines of Hunt's "The Glove and the Lions": "Not love, quoth he, but
vanity, sets love a task like that.")

Gail Bonnell said...

I can't believe so many people remember and have memorized this poem. My father memorized it as a small child. He
died in 2001 at the age of 89 but could recite every single word. I had the poem printed out and on display at his memorial
service. Thanks for a sad but happy memory. Gail

Gail Bonnell said...

I am absolutely amazed at the number of people whose parents memorized this poem in school. My father died
in 1991 at the age of 89 and I had this poem read at his memorial service. He loved it so and could remember
every word of it up until his death.
Gail Bonnell
Louisville, KY

Michael said...

Dear ssiyer,
I new this poem almost by heart when I was but a teenager (more than three decades ago) but the exact words grew faint over the years (the words, not the message).
The trials of recent events in my life have compelled me to learn of it so I may know and pass on to dear friends for their comfort.
As I typed the letters of the title in the 'search' bar, I had no idea my quest would end so quickly. Tears filled my eyes when I saw this sight, so quickly processed and leading the list. I not know this poem had touched the lives of and brought comfort to so many. Surely, some of them, as I, not enjoying the peace of knowing for certain that there even is a God.
I intend to copy this verse and learn it again and hold it dear and pass it on.
Thanks and gratitude to you both you and Mr. Hunt,
Southern Indiana, U.S.A.

Rhonda Laues said...

I've always wondered why my heart was so full of God's
love! This poem was recited to me by my mother as a
child at bedtime. She would start by having me
repeat, "Abou Ben Adhem by Leigh Hunt". What a
positive and encouraging piece to put in the heart of
a child! I know it so well, I was prepared to correct
it's content on this webpage had ONE word been
incorrect. It was flawless! Thanks for sharing it
with those of us who are familiar, and those who may
need it!

Wynton Adams said...

In doing research for my wife on the poem "Abou Ben Adhem" I came across your comments and the name Chauncey got my attention. In 1941 a Chauncey Adams contacted my father, A. Leon Adams, as Chauncey was compiling an Adams family history. Said Chauncey at that time was a retired minister and secretary of the Vermont Congregational Conference. He later moved to Claremont, CA. Please let me know if we may have the same ancestry. My granddaughter is now the keeper of the family tree. She would be pleased to know of more recent members of the family that you may know of. Sincerely, Wynton B. Adams, 795 County Road 1, #145, Palm Harbor, FL 34683

Blaine Sturgess said...

From B Sturgess -London Nov10th 2004
My mother recited this poem to me many times -and I always thought the moral
very valid .Now even more so when certain people in certain religions
believe they have a monopoly on God.

emma cottrell said...

I too have remembered this poem all my life and wanted to print
a copy for a friend who is from Germany. I am amazed at the
the comments of the "prettiness" of the poem, and the failure of
most to understand its true meaning. For years I have shied away from the "I love Jesus" and "Do you know Jesus loves you?"
proclaimers and how we must shout to the heavens of our love of God. This poem says it all. Stop your "Bible thumping" and
"showing off" about religion. If you are interested only in show, then shout and sing and proclaim all you want, but if you really
want to live a rich and full life, then "love your fellow man". That
is what living is all about and it is the hardest thing to do. Also,
remember that charity starts at your own hearth and spreds out
to the world - so take care of your own first - and then spred that
love around you. It will radiate out and you will be blessed.
James Leigh Hunt wrote from the heart - and was a very wise man. He wasn't writing just a pretty poem to catch your fancy,
he was giving you a goal to reach.

Bill Baker said...

Leigh Hunt's Abou Ben Adhem, and "Invictus", by William Henley, have
been guiding lights for most of my 90+ years. You don't have to be
religious to appreciate the value that loving your fellow man brings.
The whole (society) is greater than the sum of its parts (people).
Without co-operation It would be a survival of the fittest jungle.

Kay Howard said...

I also learned this beautiful poem way back in the late forties. I have recited it over and over for my four children, and even my husband, who had never heard it. (He was from Ohio.) Who would have thought that such outstanding poetry would come from the mouth of someone from West Virginia? I can still recite all 55 W.Va. counties in alphabetical order, and draw a map of the state, and include all the cities. Thank God for that "Backward State!"

Poetal1 said...

I certainly do not feel Abou Ben Adhem was inflicted on me as a child. I
have never been an avid reader but this was one thing that I remember enjoying
all of it. Although I didn't have to memorize it, I remember going back and
re-reading it several times. I believe that angel helped me by showing we
should love our fellow men. But I also feel this was one of the reasons I have
become a poet.

Joe Gormley said...

This poem was not 'inflicted' on me. Instead it was sent to me by my
"Ex's" mother almost 30 years ago. I still have the original that she sent me.
I very much loved my "Ex" and her mother, who was a wonderful person. The
mother has since passed away, but tonight I ran across the poem she sent me
many years ago and I smiled at her memory.
I can see by the earlier posts that this poem has touched many lives in
many strange and wonderful ways.

Peace, Joie Gormley

Terry Graham said...

When I rewrite this beautiful poem that I never forgot a word of since the fifties,
I change the angel to "She".

I had a similar remarkable baptism in the Spirit in 1971
through which I came to realize that the Holy Spirit is the feminine within God and woman is her created imagery. Solomon knows this too. Wisdom is Her name.
Proverbs, chapters 1 to 8 and the "Wisdom of Solomon" in the Jerusalem Bible
will prove it to anyone honestly seeking.

Men are images of the "Word", the masculine, the Father, within the nature of God.

Salt Spring Island

C Hall said...

I am now sixty three years old. This poem has stayed in my head since I was given a Children's Encyclopedia for Xmas when I was about eleven (I think), and I learnt it off by heart.

I was most surprised when I read in the Daily Telegraph that someone was enquiring about it, which prompted me to look it up on my computer. What a wonderful memory.

Carmen Hall

Chon-Hee Ngui said...

Just the second line, "Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace" sets the
calm, tranquil mood of the poem - how beautiful! The poem has been a
favourite of mine for many years.

I sometimes quote from it when discussion on religion becomes passionate and

It gently reminds us what God and goodness is all about.

mcd_1 said...

I cannot remember where I first heard or read this poem.
It was certainly many many years ago...I am 72 now, and for some reason, it popped into my head.
A google search found your site...and I thank you for the poem and the site.

WalterGeezer said...

'....inspired my wife and I .......
geesh! Ben could never forgive you for publishing that grammatical

Well, I suppose it is not as bad as the current 'ValleyGirl' vowel swapping.
You know, Happy becomes Hoppy; Best Friend becomes Bust Frund.

OK, OK , Aquila Non Capit Muscas

( Or maybe, "The moving finger writes and having writ......" Once the
stuff goes on the net neither your piety nor wit shall lure it back etc. :)
s/the old Geezer

Patti Cushingberry said...

had to memorize this poem in the 6th grade, and at that time it made absolutely no sense to me!!!

Patpalmer9 said...

I learnt this poem when I was a very young girl, I am now 64 years of age.
Over the years I have recited it to my sisters and my sons and daughter. I
now want my grandchildren to have the benefit of this wonderful poem, but there
was one line I was unsure of. I am so pleased to have found the poem again.
Thank you.

GAR75043 said...

In the sixth grade i had to memorize this poem. At the time I thought it a
labor to learn. Now after the years, I appreciate having had the assignment.
Thank to all of the teachers who give this poem to students to commit to

Jack Jackson said...

I had never heard the poem thanks for putting it up. I was watching the original "Alfie" with Michael Cane in which he recites the poem up to the line "Love the Lord" I thought it was interesting the way the film used the poem, he doesn't recite the rest which deals with not being properly thankful for ones blessings which is Alfie in a nutshell.

Judd Rosenblatt said...

If you liked this poem, I recommend you read a very good book by
Claude Campbell about the real Abou Ben Adhem.

[broken link]

Jacob Andoh said...

How beautiful!

Thanks for posting the poem “Abou ben Adhem.” Finding
this poem on the net brings back sweet memories. I,
too, like many here who have said so, was made to
memorize this poem a long time ago, by my teacher in
primary school, standard 4 or 5. I am a Ghanaian (from
Ghana, West Africa, a former colony of Britain. Ghana
achieved political independence in 1957, the first
sub-Saharan nation to do so.

Our public schools were, in those days (early to late
60’s), modeled after the British educational system.
Memorizing and reciting, upon demand, poems and verses
long and short, simple and complex, were an integral
and mandatory part of the education we received in
those days. Of course, as children, we did not
appreciate the beauty of the poems and the importance
they have in helping one to develop a masterful
command of a foreign language, such as English. (Ghana
has many traditional, native languages but English is
the official language).

This poem had such a powerful effect on me as a child.
When I graduated from Secondary School and "Advanced
Level" (in British terms), I temporarily served as a
primary school teacher myself. Guess what I did, then?
Yes, I made my middle school pupils learn this
wonderful poem that I, myself, had been made to learn
many years prior.

Of the many, many poems I was made to memorize many,
many years ago, I remember, to this day, the
beautiful, mystical, and enchanting “Abou ben Adhem”
and others such as the much-loved “Excelsior!” by
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807–1882.

Although my family and I live now in the United
States, finding Abou on the net has brought back to
me, many beautiful memories of childhood growing up
amid the laughter of children walking to school (no
school buses then), roads and streets serenaded by
mature coconut and palm trees, and our young skins
warmly massaged by the tropical sun and lush greens of
a beautiful and historic land, washed by the Atlantic

Ghana, like many African countries have sizeable
populations of people who are Islam and follow the
Islamic way of life. "Abou ben Adhem" was as natural
to us then as our visions of angels commiserating with

Sorry that this is a bit long but .........

Thanks for the memories.

Jacob Andoh
Mitchellville, Maryland

Gail Bonnell said...

My father learned this poem as a very young child in Florida. He memorized it word for word, and he never forgot a word of it. He was still reciting it at age 89 prior to his (premature) death. I had his minister read the poem at my father's memorial service.

Martha Browning said...

Abou Ben Adhem was one of many that I had the privilege of studying and memorizing
in my very small hometown in Mississippi. Our high school library was in a 10' x 10'
room, but our teachers lovingly stretched our minds because they could. I never felt that it was cast upon me as an infliction. Nor did my many fifth graders throughout thirty-three years of teaching, even into this century. Well, maybe a few. But they read, memorized, and wrote some of the loveliest poems. And we developed quite an appreciation for that genre, scholars or no.
It is a lovely story and FUN to recite. Powerful meaning.

Martha M . Browning
Lexington, Kentucky

Ed & Paulette Margulies said...

I was tickled by your comments about "Abou ben Adam". I WAS educated in America and learned this poem in elementary school in the 1940's. One can't deny its simple and beautiful message.

Ed Margulies

Margaret Roach said...

How I love this poem! My Mother and I would recite it together when I
was ten years old. That was in 1942. I have never forgotten it. It
brings back memories of a Mother whose love was rich. constant and
unconditional and a message not to be forgotten. Thank you for making
it so easy to find here!

RayZoo said...

I first memorized this poem in ninth grade because I had to memorize a poem
for AP English class. My mother, the granddaughter of a well loved and
respected librarian, knew many, many poems but encouraged me to learn this one.
I didn't, at the time, pay attention to the meaning. Now, as a mother, I can
see the prophetic meaning and really look forward to teaching my young
daughter this poem.
The love of poetry and reading lives on from generation to generation. What
a lovely gift to share.
Heather Ray

Planetvotto said...

I was fascinated by the long list of testimonials honoring this poem. I began
looking for it after I took my 8 and 6 yr old kids to see the Merchant of
Venice and was recalling another inspirational verse I memorized long ago…."The
quality of mercy is not strained...". My mother loved to read aloud and I
treasure Abou Ben Adhem both as something special from my childhood and as an
anchor I needed to locate as I search for wings. I have been reading Marcus Borg as
he attempts to find The Heart of Christianity. I found a Bartlett's Familiar
Quotations last week at the thrift store and discovered the author, James
Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) far more wise and eloquent than I could ever hope to be,
writing over 150 years ago.

I find it curious that these comments are being sent electronically via fancy
technology, yet the most powerful message in this collection of devoted
readers is that this poem must be committed to memory just like tales thousands of
years ago.

Gary Cser said...

This poem brought back painful memories for me, because as a third
grader in Massachusetts, I actually had to memorize this! -L.C.

gloriborms said...

Re: Abou Ben...#153

Thank you for helping my memory.

Would you be kind enough to give me the title of the book?
Obviously I'm not too literate with computers.
(I'm a native of Oklahoma lost in SC)

LEON BYNG said...

I was looking at a religious program on TV, and all of a sudden the first few lines of the poem came to my mind. My two teenage girls had just had an argument that I mediated.
I immediately looked it up on the web and realized the message for my daughter and printed it out for her to read and enjoy. I, too read it in grade school and was absolutely enthralled with it the day we read it as a class. I've never forgotten it. Thanks for posting it!

Leon of Boston, Mass


This poem was printed in our local newspaper following the premature death
of my father in 1958. I was young at the time and didn't fully comprehend
the meaning. My father lived his life truly loving his fellow man. This
poem speaks volumes about the man he was and the person I have spent my life
trying to emulate..


NathD said...

I googled Abou Ben Adhem with some trepidation. Is NSA looking over my
shoulder? They are confused so easily.

Francis McTeigue said...

When I taught school, starting in 1960, forcing, or inflicting the
memorization of poetry was considered "old fashioned" and to be
avoided. We didn't teach English but we did have a "language" book.
When we got to the section of the book on poetry, I recited from
memory this poem. The children were impressed. They clapped. I got
the idea of having a poetry festival. The rules were to find a poem,
memorize it, and then recite it to the class. Each day afterwards,
after lunch, when the kids needed to unwind, someone would recite a
poem from memory. It was all voluntary but almost all of the
children participated. I didn't tell the principal nor the
Curriculum Coordinator.

Drake Moser said...

Thanks for posting the poem.

I had to remember this poem in 7th grade, 29 years ago.

I forgot many of the works since then and was glad to find them again.

I too, like Ben Adhem, asked the Lord to come in to my life and write me

into His book of life. I repented and now am saved, only with the grace of

To all that read these comments, I pray you also, will ask and believe.


Julia Spicer said...

Question: What is the pronunciation of "Abou": a boo, a bow, or what. Thanks.

Craig W. Passey said...

Having just read this for the first time in four decades, I realize now
that much of my Idaho childhood education took place within the walls of
a dimly-lit barn while milking a long row of Holstein cows. The
less-than-pleasant aromatic combination of hay, rolled barley, and cow
urine was somehow pushed into the background as my father's passion for
poetry (this selection foremost) seared into my heart and mind, a deeper
respect for God's creations. My reverence for what our animals provided
for us led to our dedication in providing for them. The poem's message
lived in my father's example and sacrifices for others. Daily duty to
family, community, and farm expressed his convictions. This poem is
part of my inheritance-and deeply treasured.

Chris said...

I never learned it in school but found it in an old school book my mother had at home. I have tried to be religious but over the years have become more and more cynical. I definitely love my fellow man and I think that is enough. If There is a God? I should think living a good life, respecting and loving one's fellow man would be so much better to GOD than being the hypocrite that runs to church and ignores his neighbors tears.....just my thought

MauiRose2 said...

I, too, had to memorize this poem. I was in either the 5th or 6th grade
(1950 or 1951). We memorized many, many poems and other pieces of literature.
This is one of my favorites. What a pleasure to find so many people enjoying
it to this day and speaking about it. I enjoyed reading all the posts.
We students in those "golden days of yesteryear" also listened to classical
music in school and learned to identify the piece and writer. Remember the
finale to the William Tell Overture? Difficult education? At times, yes.
Worthwhile education? Absolutely. N.Y.C. public school education? YES. It
was a wonderful education

Chellappa Mallika (Mallika) said...

This is a comment on GJGaudia's comment:

I too was largely educated in Roman Catholic institutions.
One thing that strikes me now when I look back is
how "Catholic" i.e. universal, was the approach they
took. Whereas in one of the protestant schools I was
made to learn the Old Testament, in the Catholic schools
there were separate Moral Science classes for those
who were not roman Catholics.


Jackie Simpson said...

I woke up this morning thinking of this poem. So much so that the first thing I did was to go to my laptop and query the internet to find it.. I had a wonderful teacher named Manuel De Leon who taught it to me over fifty years ago, and now I have a need to try to find him. It is a beautiful poem.

Raji Swamy said...

Thanks for giving us this wonderful poem. I had been searching for it for nearly four decades. It is so inspiring
Raji Swamy

Bill Baker said...

This poem is the way I want to live. If there is a hereafter may it
state my case on the judgement day.

Ann McCormick said...

To the lovely testaments I have here read, "I second that emotion!" I, too, learned it in grade school in Indiana, and it has remained with me all these (about 50) years. Bless the Lord for the educational system we once had.

Don Herzog said...

Must add to your long list of supporters. This was the first poem I was required to memorize in grade school about 65 years ago. The first two lines always remained with me.
Don Herzog
American Senior Funding
653 South B Street Suite 100
Tustin, CADirect:

Gettysphantom said...

Dear Sirs:
This poem was taught to me by my beloved late mother whose love for poetry
and prose knew no bounds.To us she was angel of light sent here to school us
in the ways of life.Did we learn? I find that each of us has a mission and
our capacity to learn about life and to love our fellow man is only limited by
how obstinate we can be. Human nature? I know not, as some of us are so much
more so advanced than others, but this poem needs publishing for it is a well
hidden gem that deserves publicity especially in todays world. Well Hidden
but a gem nonetheless
reuben febus

diamil said...

I was very pleased to find the poem Abou Ben Adham, on your website. I remember it from a grade school tutor some 46 years ago, but could only recall the first 2 lines.

It is probably not taught in schools today, due to the fact it might "offend" someone.
I think it is real shame too ..

Thanks for the poem and the website..

Bev Kaufman said...

I grew up in a very fundamentalist Christian religion, which offered up a
long list of groups of people going to hell for not adhering to a specific
brand of Christianity. "Abou Ben Adhem" was the first message I got from
the outside world telling me that what I already knew in my heart - Ben
Adhem's name led all the rest not because he loved the Lord under a precise
and exclusionary set of rules, but because he loved his fellow man,
something that can be done in any religion.

Bev Kaufman

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

janet.bruce said...

Thank you for having this poem on your website. I remember this poem from many years ago when as a child (no television) my mother would sit us children around her on the floor and she had a very large book of poems. She read this poem to us with such expression and we loved it!! I never forgot it. Just the other day I was telling my oldest son (now 48 years old) about this poem and decided to see if I could find it. I didn't know how to reall spell it so I spelled it phonetically and there it was. Thanks again!!


kathy said...

I am talking to my 78 year old mom and she remembers it a bit different.

Here's her memory.

On the lines following she remembers these changes.

"And is mine one too?", asked Abou.

And showed the names of those whom love of God had blessed.

She is reading the magazine, Good Old Days, and saw an article in there. A
Flossy Johnson.


SK said...

We learned it also in The Montreal Catholic School Commission's
English sector back in the days when memorization was an
acknowledged intellectual skill and not derided as 'rote learning'
by the education experimenters.

I am pleased to share this heritage with so many around the world.
Also, too bad it was never translated into French!

Phyllis Dirks said...

I was amazed and charmed to read so many comments on Abou that resonate with my own. The poem, memorized when I was in school, as it was for so many of you, has frequently played through my mind and I have never forgotten it. Its message really speaks to me in that it parallels the Gospel message that tells us what we do for 'the least' ones, we are doing unto Christ. I have always hoped it would be counted toward my record!

Phyllis Dirks
Federal Way WA

Gerald said...

We memorized this poem in grammer school. I am 60 now and still
remember the words!!!


Vijay Kulkarni said...

The meaning of this poem may be self-evident, but from the commentary, it does not appear to be so. To me the meaning of this poem is that

1) If there was a GOD, then (he, she, it) would say that it is better to love your fellow man than love (him, her, it) and 2) if there is no GOD, then there is no alternative than to love your fellow man, if we as a human race are to survive. So the question of GOD becomes mute - simply love your fellow man and the world will be a better place.

Vijay Kulkarni

Jacob High said...

The Abou Ben Adhem poem: This poem is printed in the Knights of Pythias
Manual, published in 1887 on page 241. The Knights of Pythias were a group
not unsimilar to the Odd Fellows and the Masons.

Charles Hamilton said...

I find it interesting that you say this poem is "uncomplicated by hidden
meaning", particularly given some of the comments here from religious
people. Granted, the meaning is not particularly hidden, but certain
people seem to have missed it, so it's worth spelling it out. James
Leigh Hunt was a radical liberal and, if not an out-and-out atheist
himself, was a great friend of Shelley, who was.
This is essentially not a religious poem. Its central message is that
non-theistic morality based on compassion is better than piety.

B Sury Bangalore said...

Seriously, I've loved this poem even though am not a big fan of 'the Lord' kinda stuff.
This particular poem is more than just that to me - the teacher was a favorite and somehow
the ambience of that particular class was extremely soothing. I still remember every word though
it is close to thirty plus years - and yes, am a Wodehouse fan too, and feel very good when it
appears in those books.

Deep dream of peace is right :-)

Vidya Sury
Bangalore, India

Tom Schwartz said...

Tom Schwartz
My mother would recite thi poem to me when I was a boy some 60 years ago
and it has sttayed with me. I later discovered that it very correctly
recites the message in Mathew 25:35 to 40. IN order to love and serve God,
You should love and serve your fellow men. I cannot to this day recite this
poem without tears of emotion, Perhaps from memory of other and what she
taught me.

Robert Lawrence said...

Although it is very poetic, it disturbs me that it takes a Biblical
teaching then ignores the clear teaching found within the same book.
Salvation comes from repentance and forgiveness from Christ Jesus alone,
not from love to your fellow man. God's standards demand perfection and
since nobody will argue that they have reached perfection our hope lies
in humility and the finished work of a perfect being on our behalf.

May you all be blessed and find life in calling on Jesus for salvation.


Peggy McCleary said...

The sentiments in this poem have influenced me all my life. I learned it in
the 6th standard. I was educated in Bombay, and unlike the person who felt
that poetry was "inflicted" on him, I feel very blessed to have had such a
quality education. I agree that the school system has done away with
literary works such as this, and yet as a teacher, I make sure that I expose
my students to as much poetry as possible. Whenever I recited this poem the
words of 1John 4:20 come into my mind - "If anyone makes the statement: "I
love God," and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not
love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not



Joel Shoot said...

My late dad used to recite this poem to us..and made it so funny by saying
it lightning fast .and full of dramatic effect. this poem says so much for
the true purpose of humanity is so uplifting and a tonic to the spirit.


cassel9 said...

Dear GJgaudia
Have you considered that the humanist and God,Yahweh, Allah, Buddah, etc.are all one in the same?
Be Well

April Cornell said...

I was looking up the words of Abou Ben Adhem to paint on my walls.

I learned it in school in the 60s in Montreal.

I never forgot it, and often turn the first lines over in my mind knowing
that they represent how I too would like to be remembered.

It was no hardship to learn as a child - only a revelation and an

April Cornell

McCALLB962 said...

I also had to memorize this poem but forgot the words, but the meaning never
left me. My husband of 42 years age 63 just died and I had to see it for
comfort </HTML>


Exposed to the poem in grammar school, in the 40's. At the time, racism was
rampant, and I had some questions as to why we were expected to learn it at
a Catholic school. This is the very reason I remember it now, in a different
and favorable light. Perhaps a simple poem can help reduce the tensions that
now exist in the world. I hope that somewhere, it's still being taught.
Robert O. ssironwind @

Bill said...

I have often wondered about this poem, the first 5 lines of which remained with me since either 5th or 6th grade in Primary School, Kingsgrove 1949-50 and I was delighted to now source it using the Internet. I am now 68.

Bill Walton.

Charles Gunther said...

I too was taught this poem in grade school in Brooklyn, New York. At
62 I remember this poem well. We were told that "May his tribe
increase" was extremely important in that any tribes strength and
power was increased by numbers. Many tribe members (or Followers)
insured the longevity of the tribe. Indeed, though secular, this
stands true throughout life. The lessons of life can be learned in
many ways. This poem has stood the test of time and has imparted
lessons so simple that it appears to be just a simple poem.
Simplicity is wonderful in it's complexity!

Monde Magagula said...

By saying, "May his (Abou Ben's) tribe increase," Hunt expresses a wish
for the increase in the numbers of people like Abou Ben Adhem. This is a
way of blessing his "tribe" for it to be "fruitful and multiply and fill
the surface of the earth", as God commanded Adam and Eve in the book of
Genesis when he blessed them to increase. That is what is meant by the
"tribe" in this poem. By increasing, Abou Ben's tribe would make the
world a wonderful place filled with love for one another, and
subsequently, love for the Lord.


Ben Sohawon said...

Hello there,

I was actually named after the fellow in this poem; I grew up, before
the days of the "intarweb", with nothing but an old and yellowed sheet
of paper with this wonderful piece of work typed out on it. To my
parents, I am ever grateful for choosing something so profound and
well-meaning as the inspiration for the name of their first child.

Thank you for putting it up on your website.

Ben Adam Sohawon

pilara said...

I was never forced to learn this poem by memory. I recall I stumbled
across it, as a child. I never forgot it. It seemed to memorize itself, on
the first reading.

It speaks past all belief systems, all religions, atheism, and it
seems to speak something that no one can argue with.....

It surpasses all the 'differences' of religions, agnosticism, athiesm,
to make some incredible statement ........although it uses religious
symbolism to do so, the message is clear.

To me, this poem, unites us all.

God or no God........if there is one, what would he wish from us?

If there isn't a God, isn't that what we all really hope, deep down, that
life is about , anyways?

To me, this poem touches a deep and universal longing.......speaks to all.
...atheist, agnostic, religion, we all have one universal need.........Each

And this poem seems to bridge a gap, it is the amygdala of all poems

Does it matter if there is a god or not?

Don't' we all, very deep down......suspect that this is more
important than what we believe.

It's what we our 'soul', if we have one........

Which isn't an issue for me, except that if I do have one, this poem has
touched it.....


Thanks for putting it up to find.

Elizabeth Worthy said...

After about 40 years, I am re-reading James Michener's "The Source", and it
is much involved with Arab/Jewish relations. Abou Ben Adham popped into my
head this morning, and I, too, found I remembered it almost perfectly after
60 or so years. It is simple and profound. The other poem I remember
perfectly from school days is Joyce Kilmer's "Trees". Those were days when
it wasn't a crime to mention God in the classroom.

Mary Umstead said...

I did not memorize "Abou" in school, but loved and gradually learned
its lines from my Grandmother, who read this poem and many others to me
frequently during my childhood and teenage years. Her love of poetry
was a gift freely given. . . When I was in high school, and my
Grandmother's energy and eyesight were weary and failing from long
battling cancer, it was my honor and privilege to read to her to read to
her; for although she knew its lines already, "Abou Ben Adhem" remained
one of the poems she most enjoyed hearing. - Thank you for posting it
here, for bringing back such cherished memories. -- mary

William Ringeisen said...


I,.along with my fifth grade class learned this poem. This was in the l940's at Perrysville Elem. in Pittsburgh, PA. Our memorable teacher was Miss Wolgamuith (sp.?) She was really an inspiration. I am happy that I have found your site as I have been trying to remember the poem and realized I had forgotten part of it. It was a pleasure to read again and by the fourth line I had tears in my eyes. Yes it is too bad that the quality of education today lacks so much of the quality education we had then.


Unknown said...

yar thora short kar ke likho itna bara kon likhe ga.Pagal ke bache shortcut batao.Jahil abhi main tumhe batata hoon?
I tell the story of abou ben adhem.He says that god loves those people who love human being.He says that one night abou ben adhem saw an angel in his room writing the names of those people who loved God.Abou requested the angel to write his name in the list of those who human being.Next night,the angel showed abou a list of those people who were loved by God.The name of the abou wasat the top of the list........

Preston Brown said...

This poem describes an access of God through sharing a vision of love with other humans. This is related to the teachings of Jesus. He made sharing of love with other humans of primary importance. This prepared mankind for an understanding of God after being exposed to the materialism of science. The verifiability of an external God would become problematic and the sharing of our own internal mental concept of God with other people through a vision of love would consequently become vitally important. Abou ben Adhem shows the way.

Hog Hunting Texas said...

Thanks very much for writing this poem and sharing it.

Anonymous said...

This poem appeared in one of my grandmother's school books used in Toronto, Canada, in about 1910. It was also known by a friend who grew up in England in the 1950s, so has had a long run.

I looked for it online tonight as I was studying for my Bible class; in 1 John 5:12, it says "No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us." (New Living Translation) I plan to share the poem with my group since it illustrates this eternal truth.
Jayne DonVito, Orange County, California

Anonymous said...

My father memorized this poem from his school years and tenderly recalled it when his beautiful daughter died of pancreatic cancer in 2000. My sister was the most vibrant, generous, loving and spiritual (nonreligious) person I've ever known. I had the honor of reading Abou Ben Adhem for my dad, in dedication to her, at her memorial service. Such a lasting gift to all of us, this poem.....

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I visited an elderly neighbor, recently placed in a care center. She is 94 years young, with a mind much sharper than mine. As she reminisced about her life, family, friends and neighbors....she said, "I never met anyone that I really didn't like....oh, there are some people that might have a characteristic that I didn't care for, but then I think...but there is this other characteristic that I do like about can always find something good."

After a few quiet moments she said, "Can I tell you a poem?" I told her absolutley, I would love to hear her poem. She then recited, "Abou ben Adam" word for word....she had memorized it when she was in the fouth grade.

Sometimes we find such wonderful gems of wisdom in the most unexpected places....What a great spirit this sweet lady has and what a great message this poem has for each of us!

Matt. 25: 40 .... Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Anonymous said...

My mother aged 93 passed away 3 days ago and had a copy of this poem in her belongings. She told me years ago she would like it read at her funeral so one of her grandchildren will be carrying out her wishes. It is a simple and lovely poem.

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Anonymous said...
I like your poem. It is a sweet and lovely poem. you are very clever.

Anonymous said...

I learnt this poem in High School in Australia in 1951 and somehow it has stayed with me all these years and the only poem that I actually still remember. I think the words describe a beautiful scene and one can sense the auro that surrounds it.

Anonymous said...

My Hebrew school teacher taught this poem to our class in the late 50s. The name Abou ben Adhem popped into my head occasionally over the years, but I didn't remember anything about it except the name and how much the poem had moved me. This morning, it popped into my head and, this time, I happened to be at the computer. I googled it and I'm so glad I did. Thank you for posting it.
Nancy from MA said...

I learned this poem over 65 years ago, at he Ralph Waldo Emerson school in Roxbury, MA - always enjoyed what it had to say.

mr asad said...

i am a teacher too, but i do not understand what the poem says. now i ganna teach my student they will do understand what i wanna say
Mr Asad

فيس بوك said...

great .. this poem is wonderful

Nomita Chakravorty said...

thank you.. This is a favorit poem.
overall an awesome post.
God Bless dear.
btw.. the reaction of isaac asimove is hilarious... rofl..

Shine On!

Anonymous said...

was just crying cos i felt really low then thought of this poem a friend sent to me long ago
now reading it has made it clear
hope's still in the world and its very near
sad doc

Anonymous said...

My Mom is 84 now and in the early stages of dementia. She read this poem to me many times as a child, and when I reminded her of it today, she still remembered most of the words. It brought a smile to her lips and tears to my eyes. I came to the site to find the poem in its entirety. I'm so glad to have found it again.

Anonymous said...

,my grandfather, allan wilson told me this story as a child. it took me many years to realize this poem speaks of the man my grandfather truly is. i can only pray i will become as loving a person he is

Unknown said...

I'd like to receive information about dementia patients who can still remember much of this poem, as Sally Petersen posted on August 17, 2003. I'm on facebook, wearing a blue hat, or
post here. Gerald Baker

anita said...

I was asked to recite this poem in school for the elocution competition. I was about 10 years old and had to learn it by heart. I still remember every word of it even after three and a half decades. The teacher who egged me to learn this was Ms. Pearly Anthony our chemistry teacher as it was a house competition and she was the teacher who represented our house. I remember standing there, a little girl with pigtails uttering every word with perfect diction and expression. I did win the elocution contest that year but what moves me more now is that I spoke words which were so lofty at such a tender age , I'm so proud to have had such fine teachers and wonderful schooling ... education that prepared us for life in a noble way.... sad we cant say the same for our children.
Anita ( Alexander ) Singh Matharu

Anonymous said...

Hi those who are interested in getting more info abot the poet and Abu bin Adhem should visit this page.

I found plenty of info about both over there.

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Len said...

This was my mother's favorite poem, despite her having been forced to memorize it as a schoolgirl in England. She lived every day of her life trying to exemplify it and I read it as part of her eulogy last year. A friend just asked me for the author's name and I had to Google it to answer his request -- bringing me to your blog. Thanks for posting it!

Anonymous said...

(Scenario altered to protect thre Guilty)
Boo Ben Laden, may his tribe dfecrerasre!
Awoke one nightin a bed full of piss,
And saw, beside his bed within his room.]Which smelled much like a fart in bloom,
An angel typing on a keyboard old:
Exceeding hate had made Boo Laden bold.
And to the angel beside his bed, he said:
"Duh! Whatcha typin'there?"
The angel shook her head,
And with a look beguiling, said:
"The blokes I'd like to have in bed!"
"Well, is mine one?" said Boo.
"Nah, no way!" replied the angel.
Boo was mad, but what the hey!
He snarled and loudly said, "I pray you then,
Write me as one who leads "Al Kaida' men!"
The angel screamed and scrammed.
The next night she came again in blinding light,
And had thre names of all those bound for hell.
And lo! Boo's name was there as well!

Terry said...

Quite interesting that on an entire page of rememberance, love and respect this poem has garnered, one asshole, who won't even print his name, not only disrespects the rest of those who appreciate it, but desecrates the meaning of the poem... to love thy fellow man. Look at the dates of all the comments, going back to the previous century. Perhaps "anonymous" is reflective of the times and the youth of today. What an ignorant contribution to an otherwise beautiful page!

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Ross said...

I am a decendant of Leigh-Hunt and am very proud of this poem. Thak you for posting it.


Anonymous said...

Dundore David said...

"'Abou' means 'father of' in Arabic, and 'ben Adhem' means 'of the tribe of Adam.' So I believe that the name is an idiosyncrasy, meaning "A father from the tribe of Adam' which could be about any one of us." August 31, 2003 11:19 PM

Not sure how your explanation "could be about any one of us" since a women can't technically be a "father". Perhaps you should have said "which could be about any one of us men."

Anonymous said...

ANAS KHAN-i like this poem very much.

Anonymous said...

One of my favourite poems... Really awesome... :) -Apoorv, INDIA

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Darlene Rubin said...

Among my earliest memories are of my father reciting this poem to me at bedtime. It became the defining written word of my life, for the very simplicity of the thought, so lyrically conveyed, that one who loves his fellowman is certainly loved by God. I have since made copies for my grandchildren and hope they will grow to know and exemplify that kind of love.

Anonymous said...

I would hope that one day I could be written on that list, before the angel returned with the edited version, for I am one that loves his fellow man. Power only resides as an entity for those who crave it. We, who understand it, are content to let it be there waiting for the true believer to discover inner fulfilment. Grasp the nettle it will throb heavily when you try to sleep. elle aitch never expected the thought police to have any power. Establishment is scared of individuals capability to see through their weakness

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scrapiron said...

Marlow77 said;
When my son was born and we elected to call him "Ben" my father immediately launched into a recitaion of "Abou Ben Adhem [may his tribe increase," It has come to man more since the young one has grown to fatherhood and the old one has passed to his greater glory. Thanks James Hunt.

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Anonymous said...

RK said:

I had to memorize this poem in 8th grade because I was talking too much.
Stuck in my memory still...49 yrs. later

Anonymous said...

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An Angel writing in a book of gold:

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?" The Vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."

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"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one who loves his fellow men."

The Angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And, lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest!

Anonymous said...

I was just reading a commentary on the book of Ezekiel which mentioned that one of the influences of Ezekiel(and Daniel)on the New Testament is the term used by Jesus to refer to himself, "Son of Man", or ben-Adam.

Zalia B. Ali said...

I adore this poem too. I was educated in Ghana, WestAfrica, thank God it was "inflicted" upon me. I am so proud of it. It's a shame kids of today are not blessed with a rich knowledge of varied poems. Why? ... because Poems cannot be "inflicted" upon them! High time this is recalled.
Sad that Leigh Hunt's name was not "inflicted" on us to him his due credit for such a great poem.
Zalia B. Ali

Unknown said...

Agree with all comments above - this poem evokes childhood memories like no other can (not even Wordsworth and his daffodils!) -- I just realized that eveb after soooo many years the last line can still fetch the tears.


Edison Odoko said...

Miss. Mabel. Of Gospel. Nursery & primary school, Lagos Nigeria... thank u for making dis poem a part my life now. I remember When u asked us to memorise, I did wit d help of my elder brother it brings back sweet memories, I never new there were so many people who knew it tu.. n my favorite line is "exceeding peace has made Ben Adehm bold

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My impression of this poem is that Abou is an atheist who loved his fellow men. The angel, saying "Nay, not so," would not have lied or teased.

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