Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
By Edwin Arnold
Praise Him, Al-Mutahali! Whose decree is wiser than the wit of man can see.

’TIS written in the chapter of “the Cave,”
An Angel of the Lord, a minister,
Had errands upon earth, and Moses said,
“Grant me to wend with thee, that I may learn
God’s ways with men.” The Angel answering, said:        5
“Thou canst not bear with me; thou wilt not have
Knowledge to judge; yet if thou followest me,
Question me not, whatever I shall do,
Until I tell thee.”
                Then they found a ship        10
On the sea-shore, wherefrom the Angel struck
Her boards and brake them. Moses said, “Wilt drown
The mariners? This is a strange thing wrought!”
“Did I not say thou couldst not bear with me?”
The Angel answered—“Be thou silent now!”        15
Yet farther, and they met an Arab boy;
Upon his eyes with mouth invisible
The Angel breathed; and all his warm blood froze,
And, with a moan, he sank to earth and died.
Then Moses said, “Slayest thou the innocent        20
Who did no wrong? this is a hard thing seen!”
“Did I not tell thee,” said the Minister,
“Thou wouldst not bear with me? Question me not!”
Then came they to a village, where there stood
A lowly hut; the garden-fence thereof        25
Toppled to fall; the Angel thrust it down.
A ruin of gray stones, and lime, and tiles,
Crushing the lentils, melons, saffron, beans,
The little harvest of the cottage folk.
“What hire,” asked Moses, “hadst thou for this deed.        30
Seeming so evil?”
                Then the Angel said,
“This is the parting betwixt me and thee:
Yet will I first make manifest the things
Thou couldst not bear, not knowing, that my Lord—        35
‘Exalted above all reproach’—be praised.
The ship I broke serveth poor fisherfolk
Whose livelihood was lost, because there came
A king that way seizing all boats found whole:
Now they have peace. Touching the Arab boy,        40
In two moons he had slain his mother’s son,
Being perverse; but now his brother lives
Whose life unto his tribe was more, and he
Dieth blood-guiltless. For the garden wall,
Two goodly youths dwell there, offspring of one        45
That loved his Lord, and underneath the stones
The father hid the treasure, which is theirs.
This shall they find, building their ruin up,
And joy will come upon their house!
          But thou,        50
Journey no more with me, because I do
Nought of myself, but all by Allah’s will.”

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.