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What does the poem "Abou Ben Adhem" mean?

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Quick Answer

The poem “Abou Ben Adhem” describes those who love the Lord as individuals who love their fellow man, explains Humanities360.com. The poem, written by Leigh Hunt, tells of a conversation between an angel and Abou.

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Full Answer

The angel, seen writing in a golden book, lists the names of all the people who love God. When Abou hears he is not on the list, he prays that the angel add his name to the list of people who love their fellow man. The following night the angel returns and tells Abou that not only has he made the list, he "led all the rest."

Also a well-known essayist, Hunt uses the language of the poem to convey the idea that loving your fellow man is the way one loves the Lord and is what allows an individual to become truly alive. He uses the simile "a lily in bloom” to convey flowering of the human spirit that occurs when men look beyond themselves. The poem’s message explains the best way man loves God is to love others, which brings God’s blessing. The “book of gold” symbolizes the richness a man encounters when he loves the Lord, a richness of spirit that transcends this life.

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