Abou Ben Adhem

WAG 2540


This is an illustration of a poem of the same name by Leigh Hunt (1784-1859), the poet, essayist and journalist. The poem describes the moment when Abou Ben Adhem awakes to find an angel in his room, writing the names of those who love God 'in a book of gold.' Ben Adhem requests that his name be included. The name is an anglicisation of Ibrahim ibn Adham, a Sufi prince who renounced his throne to become an ascetic, and who was subsequently revered as a saint. Sullivan was a book illustrator, including for collections of poetry. He may have conceived this drawing for a similar purpose.