Of love, marriage, children and
Selections from 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran
Gibran's masterpiece reveals Arabic spirituality at its
finest. A Lebanese poet, philosopher and artist, he lived amongst us
between 1883 and 1931. My copy of his work was published by Alfred A
Knopf of New York in 1945.
The quotations below are from longer pieces on each topic.
When you love you should not say,
'God is in my heart,' but rather, 'I am in
the heart of God.'
And think not you can direct the course of
love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfil
But if you love and must needs have
desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that
sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much
To be wounded by your own understanding of
And to bleed willingly and
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and to
give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate
To return home at eventide with
And then to sleep with a prayer for the
beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
Let there be spaces in your
And let the winds of the heavens dance
Love one another, but make not a bond of
Let it rather be a moving sea between the
shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from
Give one another of your bread but eat not
from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be
but let each one of you be alone though
they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each
For only the hand of Life can contain your
And stand together yet not too near
For the pillars of the temple stand
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not
in each other's shadow.
Your children are not your
They are the sons and daughters of Life's
longing for itself.
They come through you but are not from
you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their
For their souls dwell in the house of
tomorrow, which you cannot visit, nor even in your dreams.
you may strive to be like them, but seek
not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of
the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go
swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer's hand be
For even as He loves the arrrow that
flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
You give but little when you give of our
It is when you give of yourself that you
For what are your possessions but things
you keep and guard for fear you might need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to
the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows
the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need
And there are those that have little and
give it all.
These are the believers in life and the
bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those that give with joy and
that joy is their reward,
And there are those that give with pain
and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not
pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle
breathes out its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God
speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
All you have shall some day be
Therefore give now, that the season of
giving may be yours and not your inheritors
You often say, 'I will give, but only to
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor
the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to
withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his
days and nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the
ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little
And what desert greater shall there be,
than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the
charity, of receiving?...
See first that you yourself deserve to be
a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto
life - while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a
Your transporter to
the Room of the Spirit.
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