Monday, December 5, 2011

Rolland Arthur Ely: Unto the Least of These

Rolland Arthur Ely, ca. 1945
(Fairfield School Board picture)




In a fleeting effort to improve my mind, I checked out a book of poetry from the library.  To my surprise, I enjoyed it more than I thought, especially when I came across a familiar poem, one that I think I have only heard once in my life.  I had to ask mom where I might have heard that one memorable delivery, and she said she thinks it was over the pulpit (or at least the microphone) during a fast and testimony meeting when I was a teenager.
The poem was memorable because my Great-Grandpa Rolland Arthur Ely was the one reciting it.  He did it completely from memory, having learned it as a schoolboy.  It was also memorable because the poem is a fitting theme to honor his life of quiet service and friendship.
So, go ahead and read this out loud, maybe picturing Grandpa Ely's quiet, melodic speaking voice, and think of what things you might be doing better this Christmas season to love your fellow men.
(The picture is from Uncle Jim Ely's picasa album).

Abou Ben Adhem
by James Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) 
 
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!