(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!
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. Wodehouse devotees will doubtless recognise the poem as being well-loved by Jeeves.  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