Abou Ben Adhem

by Leigh Hunt

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!




Abou Ben Adhem


Hunt, Leigh James Henry

Year of Publication:


Age Appropriate:





God's love of mankind


Short couplets











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Things to Discuss:

The angel first refused to write Abou's name, what changed this? What is the message the poet is trying to send? Could this really happen?

About the Poem:

Leigh Hunt took the message of this poem from a story found in D'Herbelots' Oriental Stories. The photo image is the city of Jabal, Syria, the burial place of Abou Ben Adhem. The Concord newspaper wrote a review under the caption A Lay Sermon - "A briefer or more beautiful lay sermon is not to be found than the following from the pen of Leigh Hunt."

About the Poet:

James Henry Leigh Hunt was born on Oct.19,1784 in Southgate, Middlesex, England. He was the son of a clergyman; educated at Christ Hospital. He was close friends with Byron, Moore, and Lamb. As a poet, critics believed that he lacked the depth of feeling to make an outstanding poet but was much better when engaging in essay form. He did popularize the love of poetry and literature in England. He died in 1859. Hunt in Men, Women and Books (1847) says of the growing scientific knowledge, "it will still leave untouched the invisible sphere above and about us; the great and gentle objects of poetry, the heavens and the human heart, the regions of genii, faeries and angels.