The Prophet

The Prophet (1923) is a book of 26 poetic essays written by the Lebanese-born American artist, philosopher and writer Khalil Gibran.

On Love

  • When love beckons to you, follow him,
    Though his ways are hard and steep.

    And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
    Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
    And when he speaks to you believe in him,
    Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
    • p. 11
  • For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
    Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
    • p. 11
  • All these things shall love do unto you
    that you may know the secrets of your heart,
    and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

    But if in your fear you would seek only
    love's peace and love's pleasure,
    Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing floor,
    Into the seasonless world where you
    shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
    and weep, but not all of your tears.
    • p. 12
  • Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself,
    Love possesses not nor would it be possessed:
    For love is sufficient unto love.
    • p. 13
  • 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.
    • p. 13
  • Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
    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 tenderness.
    To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
    And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
    To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
    To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy; to return home at eventide with gratitude;
    And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
    • p. 13

On Marriage

  • You were born together, and together you shall be forever more.
    You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
    Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
    But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
    And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

    Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
    Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
    Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup.
    Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.
    Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone,
    Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

    Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
    For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
    And stand together yet not too near together:
    For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
    And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

    • p. 15

On Children

  • Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not 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 with yesterday.
    You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
    • p. 17

On Joy and Sorrow

  • The deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
    • p. 28
  • Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
    And the selfsame well from which your
    laughter rises was oftentime filled with your tears...
    When you are joyous, look deep into
    your heart and you shall find it is only
    that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
    When you are sorrowful look again in
    your heart, and you shall see that in truth
    you are weeping for that which has been
    your delight.
    • p. 29

On Reason and Passion

  • Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite. Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody. But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?
    • p. 50


"For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing; And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes."

On Pain

  • Could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; and you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
    • p. 52

On Self-Knowledge

  • The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
    And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
    But let ther be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
    And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
    For self is a sea boundless and measureless.
    Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather, "I have found a truth."
    Say not, "I have found the path of the soul." Say rather, "I have found the soul walking upon my path."
    For the soul walks upon all paths.

    The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
    The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.
    • p. 54

On Friendship

  • Your friend is your needs answered.
    He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
    And he is your board and your fireside.
    For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
    • p. 58
  • And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
    • p. 59

External links

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Last modified on 17 November 2008, at 09:01