The Prophet Study Guide

The Prophet

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

The Prophet (1923) is a book of 26 poetic essays written by Lebanese-American poet, writer, artist, and philosopher Khalil Gibran.

On Love

  • 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.

    • p. 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.
    • p. 11
  • 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.

    All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

    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.

    • p. 12
  • Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself,Love possesses not nor would it be possessed:

    For love is sufficient unto love.

    • p. 13
  • When you love you should not say,"God is in my heart," but rather,

    "I am in the heart of God."

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

    • p. 13
  • Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

    To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

    To know the pain of too much tenderness.

    To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

    And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

    To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

    To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy; to return home at eventide with gratitude;

    And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

    • p. 13

On Marriage

  • You were born together, and together you shall be forever more.You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.

    Ay, 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.

    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 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.

    • p. 15

On Children

  • Your children are not your children.They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

    They come through you but not from you,

    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

    For they have their own thoughts.

    You may house their bodies but not their souls,

    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

    You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

    Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

    For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

    • p. 17

On Giving

  • You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
    • P. 19
  • you should give in humility and in truth because when you give in humility and truth you impress God

On Joy and Sorrow

  • The deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
    • p. 28
  • Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.And the selfsame well from which your

    laughter rises was oftentime filled with your tears...

    When you are joyous, look deep into

    your heart and you shall find it is only

    that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

    When you are sorrowful look again in

    your heart, and you shall see that in truth

    you are weeping for that which has been

    your delight.

    • p. 29

On Houses

  • The lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master.
    • p. 32

On Reason and Passion

  • Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite. Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody. But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?
    • p. 50
  • For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;

    And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

    • p. 50-51

On Pain

  • Could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; and you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
    • p. 52

On Self-Knowledge

  • The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.

    But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;

    And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.

    For self is a sea boundless and measureless.

    Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather, "I have found a truth."

    Say not, "I have found the path of the soul." Say rather, "I have found the soul walking upon my path." For the soul walks upon all paths.

    The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.

    The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

    • p. 54

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.

    • p. 58
  • 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.
    • p. 59

On Time

  • Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing. Yet the timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness, And knows that 'yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream.
  • And is not time even as love is, undivided and paceless? But if in you thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons, And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.

Quotes about The Prophet

  • In truth, The Prophet is a work of such universal appeal that there is little to be gained from speculating on the identity of persons or places represented in it. For Gibran's purpose was a lofty one, and his belief in the 'unity of being', which led him to call for universal fellowship and the unification of the human race, is a message which retains its potency today as do the messages of all great poets. Inspired by his experiences in a country far from the land of his origins, he strove to resolve cultural and human conflict, in the process developing a unique genre of writing, and transcending the barriers of East and West as few have done before or since. He became not only Gibran of Lebanon, but Gibran of America, indeed Gibran the voice of global consciousness: a voice which increasingly demands to be heard in the continuing Age of Anxiety.
    • Dr. Suheil Bashrui, editor of Kahlil Gibran: A Spiritual Treasury , as quoted in"Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) - A Voice of Consciousness" by Manbir Singh Chowdhary in Quarterly No.16 (May 2004)

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