Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Joseph Smith and Abou Ben Adhem

Posted by robf on May 7, 2010

Not sure how I’ve never heard this poem before, but today I was struck by the similarity between Joseph Smith’s encounter with Moroni and James Henry Leigh Hunt’s poem Abou Ben Adhem (published in England in 1834):

Abou Ben Adhem
About en 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 Angle 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 cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that 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!

I did some Google searching and didn’t come up with much of an LDS connection here, but the poem is striking. While I can’t find a connection between Leigh Hunt and the Church, is there a connection between Joseph Smith and the legend of the Arab Muslim saint and Sufi mystic Ibrahim Bin Adham?

3 Responses to “Joseph Smith and Abou Ben Adhem”

  1. Nothing to add other than my anecdotal experience as a missionary in Arizona, where a member loved this poem and handed out copies to all missionaries who served in his area. I immediately recognized the similarities to JS that you describe, and told myself I’d research it more when I returned from my mission. That was 6 years ago. I’d totally forgotten about the poem until I saw your post.

  2. kirkcaudle said

    wow, pretty interesting. I have never seen this poem before.

  3. Tony said

    I read this poem many times in school, but for reasons I can’t explain I never saw anything at the time to make me think of Joseph Smith. Thanks for bringing this up. I wonder if Joseph ever ran across the poem and, if so, whether it struck him the same way.

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