Daily Prompt: Call Me Ishmael / On “The Prophet”January 6, 2013
“Almustafa, the chosen and the beloved, who was a dawn unto his own day, had waited twelve years in the city of Orphalese for his ship that was to return and bear him back to the isle of his birth.”
Above is the first sentence from Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”, the one book that I said I’d take along with me in case of fire. But when our house actually caught fire, I was not able to do it because I was not home when it went aflame and completely down to ashes in 1998.
The first sentence alone speaks of patience, determination, hope… Kahlil Gibran is described as “a romantic mystic and visionary; he preached love, beauty, freedom and redemption in his works.”
I used to have a hardbound copy of The Prophet that I bought in India when I was studying there; that’s where I first encountered Kahlil Gibran and his book. What I have now is a just a newsprint edition. What is important nevertheless is having with me the wisdom of Kahlil Gibran’s prose poems beautifully accompanied by his own illustrations. On different topics when the People of Orphalese ask him on his wisdom between Birth and Death, he speaks about Love, Marriage, Giving, Eating and Drinking, Work, Joy and Sorrow, Houses, Clothes, Buying and Selling, Crime and Punishment, Laws, Freedom, Reason and Passion, Pain, Self-Knowledge, Teaching, Friendship, Talking, Time, Good and Evil, Prayer, Pleasure, Beauty, Religion, Death.
I particularly liked what he wrote on Children. In part, he writes:
“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 and tarries with yesterday…”