In our ESL Poetry study we shall have many wonderful poems to listen to by Khalil Gibran.
English was not Gibran's native tongue. He was Lebanese, and born in Bsharri. He had no formal education during his childhood because of poverty. He was born on January 6th in 1883 yet only started school on September 30, in 1895 after he had emigrated to America with his mother. He was placed in a special class for immigrants to learn English.
Today we shall listen to some extracts from his most famous work "The Prophet"
The Prophet is a book of profound wisdom which tells the story of a holy man, Almsataffa. He waits in the city of Orphalese for his ship that will return him to the isle of his birth. On the day that the ship arrives, a woman and a seeress, Almitra asks him to speak to the people on a variety of everyday subjects.
ESL Poetry - Khalil Gibran 'On Love'
I love Gibran.. He is one of my favourite poets.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
ESL Poetry - Khalil Gibran 'On Children'
Here you can listen to the wonderful rich voice of Richard Harrisagain as he narrates from The Prophet.
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.
ESL Poetry - Khalil Gibran 'On Work'
Richard Harris again recites from The Prophet - On Work
You work that you may keep pace with the earth
and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons,
and to step out of life's procession,
that marches in majesty and proud submission
towards the infinite.
When you work you are a flute through whose heart
the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent,
when all else sings together in unison?
Always you have been told that work is a curse
and labour a misfortune.
To love life through labour
is to be intimate with life's innermost secret
And in keeping yourself with labour
you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour
is to be intimate with life's inmost secret.
You have been told also that life is darkness,
and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness
save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
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.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.