Please explain me abou ben Adem poem line by line including figures of speech
“Abou Ben Adhem” is a narrative poem by Leigh Hunt in which he attempts to capture the spirit of brotherhood and fraternity with a hint of spiritual satisfaction. This is a narrative poem, where Hunt uses the storytelling technique to convey a profound reflection — Loving one’s fellowmen is perhaps more virtuous, if not at par, with loving the Almighty Himself.
The poem opens with the introduction of the protagonist with a blessing upon him. Perhaps the use of the phrase “may his tribe increase!” anticipates the reward for the protagonist’s noble feelings of fellowship. One night Abou woke up from a “deep dream of peace” only to see an angel writing on the golden book. The natural shine of the angel has made the room look even more brighter. The simile used to convey how beautiful the room looked in the presence of the angel is suggested in the phrase “Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom”. It suggests the idea of the birth of something beautiful and pure. Abou was naturally surprised at the sight of seeing an angel in his room. However, he didn’t let astonishment take over his sense of calmness and he asked the angel without any hesitation what she was writing. The sweetness and purity of the angel is reflected in the way she speaks. She says in the kindest voice that she has been writing the names of those men who love God. Out of curiosity he asks the angel if he has been honoured with the acknowledgement of his love for God. But the angel honestly replies that his name is not included in the list of God’s favourites. Although Abou feels a little low at this remark but still it does not upset Abou. He cheerfully asks the angel to kindly include his name not as someone who loves God but as the one “that loves his fellow men”. This establishes the true essence of the poem. This statement embodies the idea that to love fellow men is as noble a job as to love God himself. He is a believer of God as well as a believer of humanity.
In this stanza, the angel finishes her work and disappears for the night. The next night she reappears with a “great wakening light”, a light that guides people in the right path. The angel is seen to appear in the darkness, spreading the luminous light of joy.This “great wakening light” could symbolise enlightenment. In the first paragraph, we see Abou waking up abruptly from his peaceful sleep but now we observe him waking up with a light of hope and goodness. The angel now reveals the names of those who have been recognized for their love for God. To his surprise, Abou’s love for his fellow human beings and his spirit of comradeship proved to be greater than the love for God. His honesty and his spirit of kinship made him lead the rest. Through this stanza, the poet tries to pass on the message that no love is greater than the love for fellow men.
Hunt uses alliteration to enrich the cadence of the poem. Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds. Some examples are:
Abou Ben Adhem (Line 1)
Deep dream of peace (Line 2)
Nay, not so (Line 11)
I pray thee then (Line 13)
Another tool we find is assonance– the repetition of similar vowel sounds.
Making it rich (Line 4)
Abou spoke more low (Line 12)
Making it rich, & like a lily in bloom,
An angel, writing in a book of gold.
The simile ‘like a lily in bloom’ conveys the potential of this encounter to bloom into something pure and noble. The fabled ‘book of gold’ symbolizes its richness and the great value placed on its contents.
All of these poetic elements contribute to the pleasure of reading the poem.