The Old Woman

A lonely old woman sits out in the street
'Neath the boughs of a banyan tree,
And hears the bright echo of hurrying feet,
The pageant of life going blithely and fleet
To the feast of eternity.

Her tremulous hand holds a battered white bowl,
If perchance in your pity you fling her a dole;
She is poor, she is bent, she is blind,
But she lifts a brave heart to the jest of the days,
And her withered, brave voice croons its pæan of praise,
Be the gay world kind or unkind:
“La ilaha illa-l-Allah,
La ilaha illa-l-Allah,
Muhammad-ar-Rasul-Allah.”

In hope of your succour, how often in vain,
So patient she sits at my gates,
In the face of the sun and the wind and the rain,
Holding converse with poverty, hunger and pain,
And the ultimate sleep that awaits …
In her youth she hath comforted lover and son,
In her weary old age, O dear God, is there none
To bless her tired eyelids to rest? …
Tho' the world may not tarry to help her or heed.
More clear than the cry of her sorrow and need
Is the faith that doth solace her breast:
“La ilaha illa-l-Allah,
La ilaha illa-l-Allah,
Muhammad-ar-Rasul-Allah.”
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