My sister celebrated her 17th wedding anniversary on Sunday. I still remember her wedding day like as if it were yesterday. I was so young then! She had a civil ceremony and during the ceremony I gave a reading from The Prophet by the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran. It was a poem on Marriage.
Here it is:
Then Almitra spoke again and said, “And what of Marriage, master?”
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, 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 one 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.
I absolutely love this poem as it encapsulates exactly what I believe marriage is all about: two people who love each other and who live their lives together but at the same time maintain their own identities. By supporting each other, they both develop and grow together. Together but not too near.
According to Wikipedia, Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao Tzu.
The Prophet is made up of 26 prose poems, delivered as sermons by a wise man called Al Mustapha. He is about to set sail for his homeland after 12 years in exile on a fictional island when the people of the island ask him to share his wisdom on the big questions of life: love, family, work and death.
Gibran wrote The Prophet in English in 1923. Lines from the book have inspired song lyrics, political speeches and have been read out at weddings, like my sister’s, and funerals all around the world. Many leaders like John F Kennedy and Indira Gandhi have quoted from his poems.
I’d like to share with you 5 of my favourite quotes from The Prophet.
On Love: If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don’t, they never were.
On Children: Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
On Teaching:The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.
On Friendship: A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?
This BBC article explains very eloquently why The Prophet is so loved around the world. I think that Khalil Gibran deserves to be a part of the giants of English Literature. He has given much inspiration to many people through the decades and what is literature after all if not to inspire us?
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Ciao for now.