Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

By brief way of introduction, this book contains 26 'poetic essays' by the Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran.  Wikipedia has a good synopsis, so I'm shamelessly plugging it in here:
The prophet, Al-Mustafa who has lived in the foreign city of Orphalese for 12 years is about to board a ship which will carry him home. He is stopped by a group of people, with whom he discusses many issues of life and the human condition. The book is divided into chapters dealing with love, marriage, children, 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, and death.
When I started reading this work, I felt incredible compelled by the depth and messages contained within the book.  Certain passages spoke to my soul, and despite the short length of the work I found myself continually writing down quotations that made an impression - such an impression that I felt that some of the insight could stick with me throughout the rest of my life and would evolve with my thoughts as I continue on the journey that is life.  I envisioned taking this book with me when I travelled so I could reflect upon the passages in hopes of even greater understanding and the evolution of the messages contained within.

That said, some of the passages felt too abstract and did not speak to me as if they were a truth (not THE truth), but rather thoughts intended for their poetry and not for anything contextual.  I can only wonder if I would feel this way if I re-read the passages later in life - perhaps they did not penetrate because I was at this time, impenetrable.  I doubt this is this case, but one can only guess because one can never escape one's own perspective.

Some quotations that I enjoyed:
"And shall it be said that my eve was in truth my dawn?" 5

"And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation." 8

"In your aloneness you have watch with our days, and in your wakefulness you have listened to the weeping and the laughter of our sleep." 10

"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." 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.  Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.  Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.  He threshes you to make you naked.  He sifts you to free you from your husks.  He grinds you to whiteness.  He kneads you until you are pliant; And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast." 11-12

"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." 12-13

"And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course." 13

Yeah, that's just a couple of parts of the first 13 pages.  I have a ton more quotes and I think they get particularly interesting in the sections on marriage, work, reason & passion and friends.  Maybe I will eventually quote them all out, but above gives you a small sample.


Sarah said...

I love The Prophet! This is one of my favorite quotes:

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

Just makes me want to go play outside. I love it.

Eclectic Indulgence said...

I also love that quote - I wrote it down while in a park and I felt an overwhelming desire to take off my hat. :)

aloi said...

this is one of my absolute favourites. the quotes are to live by. and the illustrations are eqally amazing!

stonedcherie said...

this is just too beautiful, the moment i read the first page l had an overwhelming desire to cry.this is one book everyone needs to read

stonedcherie said...

this is too beautiful, the moment l read the very first page about love, i felt an overwhelming desire to cry. he speaks directly to my soul