This morning, I had the pleasure of finishing The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.
It was recommended to me by a friend who thought I would enjoy this poetry collection. Although, I’d like to argue that The Prophet isn’t a collection of poetry, at least, not in the traditional definition.
The Prophet‘s story simple: Almustafa, the prophet, exiled for 12 years on a hill outside of Orphalese, waits for his ship to come and return him home. Before he boards his ship, the people of Orphalese came out of their homes and from the fields to approach Almustafa. The people of Orphalese ask him to share his wisdom and truths. Each chapter is a reflection on various topics: marriage, love, children, beauty, knowledge, laws, etc. And, [spoiler alert], it ends with him leaving the island.
Now, I must start this by post by saying The Prophet is not your typical prose poetry collection or any book with a plot. There is no plot. Almustafa is answering questions the people of the village ask him before he leaves. That’s it. So don’t expect there to be a conflict or movement in this story. And I say “story” with great reservation. If you want something reflective and with a plot, read Tuesdays with Morrie.
This book is a collection of sermons and reflections. Each chapter is supposed to make the reader reflect on the topic. Not all topics will hold meaning to you as a reader, but some will. The reflection of the reader, I think, is the most important part of the book; that’s why it took me about a month to finish.
If you’re not into reflective essays, with simple yet profound sentences, then I wouldn’t recommend this book.Read if you can appreciate lines like:
“For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.”
“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.”
“Joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.”
“People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil. Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.”
If you cannot appreciate the beauty and poetry in Kahlil Gibran’s translated words, read Wordsworth or Burns to calm your soul and teach you patience.
Or read Walden. Walden is reflective.
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