My brother got me this book for Christmas with the inscription: “For love, hearts, minds, adventure, wisdom. Perhaps the most beautiful poems I’ve read this year, now, for you.” How could I not get excited about it?
The poems about love, work, clothes, freedom, and death are framed by the story of a prophet offering his last words of wisdom before sailing for his homeland. The set up feels Homeric, and the wisdom is some seriously good insight. I was won over from the first themed poem on Love, in which he says:
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.”
There are nearly 100 pages of these truths. Well, I mean, I disagree with some of his theology, but most of the time his words are universal, beautiful, hard, and inspiring. I also really loved some of his parting words of encouragement.
You have been told that, even like a chain,
you are as weak as your weakest link.
This is but half the truth. You are also
as strong as your strongest link.
To measure you by your smallest deed is
to reckon the power of the ocean by the frailty
of its foam.
To judge you by your failures is to cast
blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy.
As my brother promised, I found love, hearts, minds, adventure, and wisdom the pages of The Prophet. If you enjoy poetry, I hope you check it out and find them for yourselves.
This book, which is Gibran’s masterpiece, has become one of the beloved classics of our time. Published in 1923, it has been translated into more than twenty languages, and the American editions alone have sold more than nine million copies.
Gibran considered The Prophet his greatest achievement. He said: “I think I’ve never been without The Prophet since I first conceived the book back in Mount Lebanon. It seems to have been a part of me…I kept the manuscript four years before I delivered it over to my publisher because I wanted to be very sure, that every word of it was the very best I had to offer.”
The Chicago Post said of The Prophet: “Cadenced and vibrant with feeling, the words of Kahlil Gibran bring to one’s ears the majestic rhythm of Ecclesiastes…If there is a man or woman who can read this book without a quiet acceptance of a great man’s philosophy and a singing in the heart as of music born within, that man or woman is indeed dead to life and truth.”
Release Date: 1923