The Singing Tree

April is National Poetry Month. Lew and Susan both wrote dozens of poems, and occasionally we like to share them here. To celebrate the end of National Poetry Month, take some time to relax and read some of Lew’s poetry from his celebrated novel Ben-Hur.


Wake not, but hear me, love!
      Adrift, adrift on slumber’s sea,
       Thy spirit call to list to me,
Wake not, but hear me, love!
        A gift from Sleep, the restful king,
         All happy, happy dreams I bring.

Wake not, but hear me, love!
        Of all the world of dreams ‘tis thine
         This once to choose the most divine,
So choose, and sleep, my love!
         But ne’er again in choice be free,
          Unless, unless – you dream of me.


I sigh as I sing for the story land
    Across the Syrian sea
The odorous winds from the musky sand
    Were breaths of life to me.
They play with the plumes of the whispering palm
     For me, alas! No more;
No more does the Nile in the moonlit calm
    Moan past the Memphian shore.

O Nilus! Thou god of my fainting soul!
     In dreams thou comest to me;
And dreaming, I play with the lotus bowl,
     And sing old songs to thee;
And hear from afar the Memnonian strain,
    And calls from dear Simbel;
And wake to a passion of grief and pain
     That e’er I said – Farewell!



Kapila, Kapila, so young and true,
   I yearn for a glory like thine,
And hail thee from battle to ask anew
   Can ever thy Valour be mine?

Kapila, sat on his charger dun,
   A hero never so grave;
Who loveth all things hath fear of none,
  ‘Tis love that maketh me brave,
A woman gave me her soul one day
The soul of my soul to be alway;
   Thence came my Valour to me,
    Go try it – try it – and see!


Kapila, Kapila, so old and gray,
    The queen is calling for me;
But ere I go hence, I wish thou wouldst say,
    How Wisdom first came to thee.

Kapila stood in his temple door.
     A priest in eremite guise.
It did not come as men get their lore,
     ‘Tis faith that maketh me wise,
 A woman gave me her heart one day,
 The heart of my heart to be alway;
    Thence came my Wisdom to me,
     Go try it – try it – and see.

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