Poetry is wisdom that enchants the heart. Wisdom is poetry that sings in the mind. This book of aphorisms contains much of the poetry and wisdom that have gained for Kahlil Gibran his remarkable following, and his world-wide reputation. His power came from some great reservoir of spiritual life else it could not have been so universal and so potent, but the majesty and beauty of the language with which he clothed it were all his own (Claude Bragdon).
28 pages, with a reading time of ~0.5 hours (7,180 words), and first published in 1926. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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I am forever walking upon these shores, Betwixt the sand and the foam, The high tide will erase my foot-prints, And the wind will blow away the foam. But the sea and the shore will remain Forever.
Once I filled my hand with mist. Then I opened it and lo, the mist was a worm. And I closed and opened my hand again, and behold there was a bird. And again I closed and opened my hand, and in its hollow stood a man with a sad face, turned upward. And again I closed my hand, and when I opened it there was naught but mist. But I heard a song of exceeding sweetness.
It was but yesterday I thought myself a fragment quivering without rhythm in the sphere of life. Now I know that I am the sphere, and all life in rhythmic fragments moves within me.
They say to me in their awakening, “You and the world you live in are but a grain of sand upon the infinite shore of an infinite sea.” And in my dream I say to them, “I am the infinite sea, and all worlds are but grains of sand upon my shore.”
Only once have I been made mute. It was when a man asked me, “Who are you?”
The first thought of God was an angel. The first word of God was a man.
We were fluttering, wandering, longing creatures a thousand thousand years before the sea and the wind in the forest gave us words. Now how can we express the ancient of days in us with only the sounds of our yesterdays?
The Sphinx spoke only once, and the Sphinx said, “A grain of sand is a desert, and a desert is a grain of sand; and now let us all be silent again.” I heard the Sphinx, but I did not understand.
Long did I lie in the dust of Egypt, silent and unaware of the seasons. Then the sun gave me birth, and I rose and walked upon the banks of the Nile, Singing with the days and dreaming with the nights. And now the sun threads upon me with a thousand feet that I may lie again in the dust of Egypt. But behold a marvel and a riddle! The very sun that gathered me cannot scatter me. Still erect am I, and sure of foot do I walk upon the banks of the Nile.
Remembrance is a form of meeting.
Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.
We measure time according to the movement of countless suns; and they measure time by little machines in their little pockets. Now tell me, how could we ever meet at the same place and the same time?
Space is not space between the earth and the sun to one who looks down from the windows of the Milky Way.
Humanity is a river of light running from the ex-eternity to eternity.
Do not the spirits who dwell in the ether envy man his pain?
On my way to the Holy City I met another pilgrim and I asked him, “Is this indeed the way to the Holy City?” And he said, “Follow me, and you will reach the Holy City in a day and a night.” And I followed him. And we walked many days and many nights, yet we did not reach the Holy City. And what was to my surprise he became angry with me because he had misled me.
Make me, oh God, the prey of the lion, ere You make the rabbit my prey.
One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night.
My house says to me, “Do not leave me, for here dwells your past.” And the road says to me, “Come and follow me, for I am your future.” And I say to both my house and the road, “I have no past, nor have I a future. If I stay here, there is a going in my staying; and if I go there is a staying in my going. Only love and death will change all things.”
How can I lose faith in the justice of life, when the dreams of those who sleep upon feathers are not more beautiful than the dreams of those who sleep upon the earth? Strange, the desire for certain pleasures is a part of my pain.
Seven times have I despised my soul: The first time when I saw her being meek that she might attain height. The second time when I saw her limping before the crippled. The third time when she was given to choose between the hard and the easy, and she chose the easy. The fourth time when she committed a wrong, and comforted herself that others also commit wrong. The fifth time when she forbore for weakness, and attributed her patience to strength. The sixth time when she despised the ugliness of a face, and knew not that it was one of her own masks. And the seventh time when she sang a song of praise, and deemed it a virtue.