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Two Infants — Khalil Gibran

Two Infants

 

A prince stood on the balcony of his palace addressing a great multitude summoned for the occasion and said, “Let me offer you and this whole fortunate country my congratulations upon the birth of a new prince who will carry the name of my noble family, and of whom you will be justly proud. He is the new bearer of a great and illustrious ancestry, and upon him depends the brilliant future of this realm.

Sing and be merry!” The voices of the throngs, full of joy and thankfulness, flooded the sky with exhilarating song, welcoming the new tyrant who would affix the yoke of oppression to their necks by ruling the weak with bitter authority, and exploiting their bodies and killing their souls.

For that destiny, the people were singing and drinking ecstatically to the heady of the new Emir.

 

Another child entered life and that kingdom at the same time. While the crowds were glorifying the strong and belittling themselves by singing praise to a potential despot, and while the angels of heaven were weeping over the people’s weakness and servitude, a sick woman was thinking.

She lived in an old, deserted hovel and, lying in her hard bed beside her newly born infant wrapped with ragged swaddles, was starving to death.

She was a penurious and miserable young wife neglected by humanity; her husband had fallen into the trap of death set by the prince’s oppression, leaving a solitary woman to whom God had sent, that night, a tiny companion to prevent her from working and sustaining life.

 

As the mass dispersed and silence was restored to the vicinity, the wretched woman placed the infant on her lap and looked into his face and wept as if she were to baptize him with tears.

And with a hunger weakened voice she spoke to the child saying, “Why have you left the spiritual world and come to share with me the bitterness of earthly life ?

Why have you deserted the angels and the spacious firmament and come to this miserable land of humans, filled with agony, oppression, and heartlessness ?

I have nothing to give you except tears; will you be nourished on tears instead of milk ?

I have no silk clothes to put on you; will my naked, shivering arms give you warmth ?

The little animals graze in the pasture and return safely to their shed; and the small birds pick the seeds and sleep placidly between the branches. But you, my beloved, have naught save a loving but destitute mother.”

 

Then she took the infant to her withered breast and clasped her arms around him as if wanting to join the two bodies in one, as before. She lifted her burning eyes slowly toward heaven and cried,

God! Have mercy on my unfortunate countrymen!”

 

At that moment the clouds floated from the face of the moon, whose beams penetrated the transom of that poor home and fell upon two corpses.

 —Khalil Gibran

tear and a smile

I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart
For the joys of the multitude.
And I would not have the tears that sadness makes
To flow from my every part turn into laughter.

I would that my life remain a tear and a smile.

A tear to purify my heart and give me understanding
Of life’s secrets and hidden things.
A smile to draw me nigh to the sons of my kind and
To be a symbol of my glorification of the gods.

A tear to unite me with those of broken heart;
A smile to be a sign of my joy in existence.

I would rather that I died in yearning and longing than that I live Weary and despairing.

I want the hunger for love and beauty to be in the
Depths of my spirit,for I have seen those who are
Satisfied the most wretched of people.
I have heard the sigh of those in yearning and Longing, and it is sweeter than the sweetest melody.

With evening’s coming the flower folds her petals
And sleeps, embracingher longing.
At morning’s approach she opens her lips to meet
The sun’s kiss.

The life of a flower is longing and fulfilment.
A tear and a smile.

The waters of the sea become vapor and rise and come
Together and area cloud.

And the cloud floats above the hills and valleys
Until it meets the gentle breeze, then falls weeping
To the fields and joins with brooks and rivers to Return to the sea, its home.

The life of clouds is a parting and a meeting.
A tear and a smile.

And so does the spirit become separated from
The greater spirit to move in the world of matter
And pass as a cloud over the mountain of sorrow
And the plains of joy to meet the breeze of death
And return whence it came.

To the ocean of Love and Beauty—-to God.

 

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Pleasure — Khalil Gibran

Kahlil-Gibran

 

Then a hermit, who visited the city once a year, came forth and said, “Speak to us of Pleasure.”
And he answered, saying:

Pleasure is a freedom song,
But it is not freedom.

It is the blossoming of your desires,
But it is not their fruit.

It is a depth calling unto a height,
But it is not the deep nor the high.

It is the caged taking wing,
But it is not space encompassed.

 

Ay, in very truth, pleasure is a freedom-song.
And I fain would have you sing it with fullness of heart; yet I would not have you lose your hearts in the singing.

Some of your youth seek pleasure as if it were all, and they are judged and rebuked.
I would not judge nor rebuke them. I would have them seek.

 

For they shall find pleasure, but not her alone:

Seven are her sisters, and the least of them is more beautiful than pleasure.
Have you not heard of the man who was digging in the earth for roots and found a treasure?

And some of your elders remember pleasures with regret like wrongs committed in drunkenness.
But regret is the beclouding of the mind and not its chastisement.

They should remember their pleasures with gratitude, as they would the harvest of a summer.
Yet if it comforts them to regret, let them be comforted.

 

And there are among you those who are neither young to seek nor old to remember;
And in their fear of seeking and remembering they shun all pleasures, lest they neglect the spirit or offend against it.

But even in their foregoing is their pleasure.
And thus they too find a treasure though they dig for roots with quivering hands.
But tell me, who is he that can offend the spirit?
Shall the nightingale offend the stillness of the night, or the firefly the stars?
And shall your flame or your smoke burden the wind?

Think you the spirit is a still pool which you can trouble with a staff?
Oftentimes in denying yourself pleasure you do but store the desire in the recesses of your being.

 

Who knows but that which seems omitted today, waits for tomorrow?
Even your body knows its heritage and its rightful need and will not be deceived.
And your body is the harp of your soul,
And it is yours to bring forth sweet music from it or confused sounds.
And now you ask in your heart, “How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from that which is not good?”

 

Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.
For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,
And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.
People of Orphalese, be in your pleasures like the flowers and the bees.

 

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The Criminal — Khalil Gibran

Criminal

A young man of strong body, weakened by hunger, sat on the walker’s portion of the street stretching his hand toward all who passed, begging and repeating his hand toward all who passed, begging and repeating the sad song of his defeat in life, while suffering from hunger and from humiliation.

When night came, his lips and tongue were parched, while his hand was still as empty as his stomach.

He gathered himself and went out from the city, where he sat under a tree and wept bitterly. Then he lifted his puzzled eyes to heaven while hunger was eating his inside, and he said, “Oh Lord, I went to the rich man and asked for employment, but he turned me away because of my shabbiness; I knocked at the school door, but was forbidden solace because I was empty- handed; I sought any occupation that would give me bread, but all to no avail. In desperation I asked alms, but They worshippers saw me and said “He is strong and lazy, and he should not beg.”

“Oh Lord, it is Thy will that my mother gave birth unto me, and now the earth offers me back to You before the Ending.”

His expression then changed. He arose and his eyes now glittered in determination. He fashioned a thick and heavy stick from the branch of the tree, and pointed it toward the city, shouting, “I asked for bread with all the strength of my voice, and was refused. NOW, I shall obtain it by the strength of my muscles !

I asked for bread in the name of mercy and love, but humanity did not heed. I shall take it now in the name of evil !”

The passing years rendered the youth a robber, killer and destroyer of souls; he crushed all who opposed him; he amassed fabulous wealth with which he won himself over to those in power. He was admired by colleagues, envied by other thieves, and feared by the multitudes.

His riches and false position prevailed upon the Emir to appoint him deputy in that city – the sad process pursued by unwise governors. Thefts were then legalized; oppression was supported by authority; crushing of the weak became commonplace; the throngs curried and praised.

Thus does the first touch of humanity’s selfishness make criminals of the humble, and make killers of the sons of peace; thus does the early greed of humanity grow and strike back at humanity a thousand fold !

The following lines are from the book “The Madmen” by Khalil Gibran, one of my favorite authors:

DEFEAT

Defeat, my defeat, my solitude and my aloofness;

You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs,

And sweeter to my heart than all worldglory.

Defeat , my defeat, my self-knowledge and my defiance,

Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot

And not to be trapped by withering laurels.

And in you I have found aloneness

And the joy of being shunned and scorned.

Defeat, my Defeat, my shining sword and shield,

In your eyes I have read,

That to be enthroned is to be enslaved,

And to be understood is to be leveled down,

And to be grasped is but to reach one’s fullness

And like a ripe fruit to fall and be consumed

Defeat, my Defeat, my bold companion,

You shall hear my songs and my cries and my silences,

And none but you shall speak to me of beating of wings,

And urging of seas,

And of mountains that burn in the night,

And you alone shall climb my steep and rocky soul.

Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,

You and I shall laugh together with the storm,

And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,

And together we shall stand in the sun with will,

And we shall be dangerous.

On an evening two angels met at the city gate, and they greeted one another, and they conversed. The one angel said, “What are you doing these days, and what work is given you?”

And the other answered, “It was been assigned me to be the guardian of a fallen man who lives down in the valley, a great sinner, most degraded. Let me assure you it is an important task, and I work hard.”

The first fallen angel said, “That is an easy commission. I have often known sinners, and have been their guardian many a time. But it has now been assigned me to be the guardian of the good saint who lives in a bower out yonder. And I assure you that is an exceedingly difficult work, and most subtle.”

Said the first angel, “This is but assumption. How can guarding a saint be harder than guarding a sinner?”
And the other answered, “What impertinence, to call me assumptious! I have stated but the truth. Methinks it is you who are assumptious!”

Then the angels wrangled and fought, first with words and then with fists and wings. While they were fighting an archangel came by. And he stopped them, and said, “Why do you fight? And what is it all about? Know you not that it is most unbecoming for guardian angels to fight at the city gate? Tell me, what is your disagreement?”

Then both angels spoke at once, each claiming that the work given him was the harder, and that he deserved the greater recognition.

The archangel shook his head and bethought him. Then he said, “My friends, I cannot say now which one of you has the greater claim upon honor and reward. But since the power is bestowed in me, therefore for peace’ sake and for good guardianship, I give each of you the other’s occupation, since each of you insists that the other’s task is the easier one. Now go hence and be happy at your work.”

The angels thus ordered went their ways. But each one looked backward with greater anger at the archangel. And in his heart each was saying, “Oh, these archangels! Every day they make life harder and still harder for us angels!”
But the archangel stood there, and once more he bethought him. And he said in his heart, “We have indeed, to be watchful and to keep guard over our guardian angels.”

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Khalil Gibran On Beauty

Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?
And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?

The aggrieved and the injured say, “Beauty is kind and gentle.
Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us.”
And the passionate say, “Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.
Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us.”

The tired and the weary say, “Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow.”
But the restless say, “We have heard her shouting among the mountains,
And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions.”

At night the watchmen of the city say, “Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east.”
And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say,
“We have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset.”

In winter say the snow-bound, “She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills.”
And in the summer heat the reapers say,
“We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves,
and we saw a drift of snow in her hair.”
All these things have you said of beauty,
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.

It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.

People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.

khalil Gibran 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.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
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.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

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