Out of Nazareth

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

"He shall sleep unscathed of thieves
Who loves Allah and believes."
Thus heard one who shared the tent,
In the far-off Orient,
Of the Bedouin ben Ahrzz -
Nobler never loved the stars
Through the palm-leaves nigh the dim
Dawn his courser neighed to him!

He said: "Let the sands be swarmed
With such thieves as I, and thou
Shalt at morning rise unharmed,
Light as eyelash to the brow
Of thy camel amber-eyed,
Ever munching either side,
Striding still, with nestled knees,
Through the midnight's oases."

"Who can rob thee an thou hast
More than this that thou hast cast
At my feet - this dust of gold?
Simply this and that, all told!
Hast thou not a treasure of
Such a thing as men call love?"

"Can the dusky band I lead
Rob thee of thy daily need
Of a whiter soul, or steal
What thy lordly prayers reveal?
Who could be enriched of thee
By such hoard of poverty
As thy niggard hand pretends
To dole me - thy worst of friends?
Therefore shouldst thou pause to bless
One indeed who blesses thee:
Robbing thee, I dispossess
But myself. Pray thou for me!"

He shall sleep unscathed of thieves
Who loves Allah and believes.

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