The Prophet

by Kahlil Gibran

Read this in about 7 minutes
Passing by a bookstore and not walking into it ? That’s quite unheard of. Making up my mind to not splurge too much, I still couldn't resist glancing through the shelves of  meticulously arranged books.
I was drawn to the “spirituality and religion” section , a category that I haven't read too much on, but am I glad having picked a copy of The Prophet ? You bet I am!
Regarded as  a literary and political rebel , Gibran broke away from the traditional style and has been a face of revolution in Arabic Literature. Known for his signature style ie- prose poetry , The Prophet too follows the same pattern , and is one of his finest works.
Having once read a beautiful poem by him , I was pleasantly surprised to find it to be a part of my newest purchase.

      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.

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Cover Page

First published in 1923 , this book has been translated and published in over 40 languages and has been adorned in various cover pages, some paper backs and some hard bound.  Enveloped in an ochre jacket, the cover is rather plain and ordinary with one of  Gibran’s artwork  on it.
The cover is not particularly pleasing in anyway , nor is the lettering or the layout. Assuming the publishers did not have to bother too much about the cover to attract an audience as the Author and the book itself are outstanding and have been very widely published and read and do not need the backing of an intriguing cover page for it to sell.

Characters

This short prose poetry narration revolves around a Prophet, Almustafa and a group of people  comprising of  the old and the young , men and women ,rich and poor alike , and Priest and a Priestess who ask him questions on life and the like.

Content

Almustafa , who has lived in the foreign city of Orphalese for 12 years and is soon to board a ship homewards. As he is heading towards the ship the people of  Orphalese come forth to bid him an adieu and also seek his answers on the simple yet significant parts of our existence.
The answers to these 26 questions are heart warming insights on life written beautifully by the Author. The book also contains artwork by Kahlil Gibran which are raw and deep and are relevantly placed along the text .

Language

Written in old English , in the author’s signature prose poetry style , The Prophet is a series of questions thrown by the crowd to Almustafa, and his deep and enlightening  poetic responses to them.

Good points

Having read this style for the first time , I was pleased to see that though the narration is rather poetic ,it still is pretty direct and simple to understand. The questions encompass significant elements in our lives like charity , children , marriage etc and the answers to these questions are deep , thought provoking and almost life altering.
The insights offered  by the Prophet break away from the traditional ways that the society operates and opens to us a beautiful line of thought that makes me wonder why don't we think like this already.
I can only try to explain and fail at how every little thought in this book is inspiring in a very elemental way. To most it might seem like a far fetched and unrealistic approach to life , but if achieved would lead to nothing but serenity and peace to the person and the people around him.
The size of the book also makes it cherishable as it is a deep , yet not too long. It is  something that you need to read a little everyday , contemplate over every word you read before you turn to the next page.It is priced very reasonably and makes it a must own for every person (not just a book lover,but  EVERYONE!)

Bad points

As much as a book like this does not need a good cover to add to its value, for someone who is not aware of the Author or the book itself an alluring cover page would be an incentive.

Overall

I wouldn't be exaggerating at all , if I said that this book has changed my approach to life in a very large and positive way. A pleasure to read, heart warming and inspiring – The Prophet makes you fall in love with the thoughts in the book , and the Author just the same.

Who do I recommend it to ?

Everyone !! It is a breathe of fresh air in the suffocating society that we live in , and a blissful thought process  that it describes seems like a beautiful way of life that would make us  happier and make us fall in love life and value people around us.

Quotable quotes


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.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. To rest at the noon hour and mediate love’s ecstasy. To.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.
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.
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. For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Let not the waves of the sea separate us now, and the years you have spent in our midst become a memory……Much have we loved you ,but speechless was our love  and with veils had it been veiled.  Yet now it cries aloud unto you, and would stand revealed before you. And ever has it been that love knows not it’s depth until the hour of separation.
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.
And all work is empty save when there is love.And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another and to God.

Gazala Amreen

Logophile, bibliophile, writer, designer, high on wanderlust and all things pretty.

Bangalore, KA merakipost.com