Mid-Week M.E.L.A: The Prophet by Khalil Gibran has been edited by Suraj Zala.
“You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
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.” – Khalil Gibran
These are a few lines from a poem by Khalil Gibran on marriage, one that is very dear to me. The beauty of this or any other of his poems isn’t in the metaphors or the poetic fluency he brings. It is in how he manages to teach so much through so little, with such simplicity. How often do we forget that there are two different people in a relationship? Be it the relationship of a father and his daughter, that of lovers, or even one of friends. How often are we conscious of the fact that the other person has a totally different universe within themselves?
Gibran makes us realize the simple things that we often miss and the intricacies that lie within.
The Prophet is a story of Almustafa, a prophet heading back to his hometown after spending twelve long and lonely years in the city of Orphalese. As he heads towards the shore where his ship is about to arrive, a sudden sadness strikes his heart. He realizes how attached he was to the people of Orphalese, and so were they. As he was leaving, the townspeople gathered around him, and through questions and answers, tried to gain whatever wisdom they could from him. One after another, they ask him twenty-six questions of great importance. The prophet wisely replies with what he believes to be morally correct and without allowing his own beliefs to interfere.
Gibran’s works were inspired by Francis Marrash, whom he deeply admired. His poetry frequently uses formal structures and spiritual terms. For example, “When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God”.” Many of Gibran’s writings deal with Christianity and spiritual love but, his mysticism was influenced by several different faiths like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. As he says, “You are my brother and I love you. I love you when you prostrate yourself in your mosque and kneel in your church and pray in your synagogue. You and I are sons of one faith, the spirit.”
I often find myself smiling in disbelief as I read this, wondering how someone could think of something so captivating and raw. I would like to keep going, to just lay the entire tale out here for you, but that wouldn’t do justice to his works and the way it takes one by surprise and makes them fall in love. Fall in love with the way he writes with all the wordplay, with the things he writes about, with nature. And in all the wisdom and beauty he gave away, you may find a solace, a relief, a sense of catharsis.
Every time I read The Prophet, it takes me through the same experience and the feeling of awe and wonder of how beautifully the beauty of something can be conveyed. I would like to quote him, “That whenever I come to the fountain to drink I find the living water itself thirsty; And it drinks me while I drink it.” To me, the story of the prophet was a journey of utmost satisfaction, with a little bit of magic and goodness it helped me see in the world.
To read more from Mid-Week M.E.L.A, click here.