Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”

Truth be told, I was looking for a copy of some of Buddha’s writings or maybe Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. I found Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet by accident at Barnes & Noble. It was tucked in a little corner and caught my eye. The first couple of lines I read immediately caught my attention. The prose was just what I needed to feel a sense of grounding and meditation. He says, “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.” As noted on several other reviews online, the book follows a prophet by the name of Al Mustafa as he seemingly journeys through a village. The villagers ask him questions about life and whatnot. He answers them from a well of seemingly infinite wisdom, “You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.”

“Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.”

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“The soul unfolds itself like a lotus of countless petals.”

The Prophet has a sensuality to it. It was one of the qualities about Gibran’s poetic style that caught my attention. With subtle poetic devices used and deep aphorism, it is no wonder that The Prophet became very popular around the 1960’s. It’s sensuality and free-form, prose-poetry suited the counter-culture of the time. Apparently, John Lennon was a fan and used it in his music. Since I stopped listening most of the Beatles’ work after Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, this was a new fun fact about music and literature that I learned while looking into this book. One of my favorite quotes is: “And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.” The theme of my first two books were remembrance and memory. The idea that memory is not always held in the mind but the body, and other places of great significance, community or the cultural subconscious. Kahlil Gibran also touches on another of my favorite subjects: pleasure. The prophet says, “It is the caged taking wing, but it is not space encompassed.” It’s such a beautiful way of saying that pleasure is that space between nature and freedom held in the friction of just the right amount of closeness. It brought to mind that quote, “I know why the caged bird sings.”

Work Cited

Gribran, Kahlil. The Prophet, Fall River Press, New York, 2019.

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