I re-read this old favourite for maybe the fortieth time.
Once again it reinforced a way of looking at life which has been an increasing part of me for the past four decades. How does one review a favourite child? How can one be detached when talking of ones own arm or a leg?
Yet I should at least acknowledge the power of this small volume. Some short quotations are, perhaps, the greatest compliment, for these words are within me all the time.
Fain would I take with me all that is here. But how shall I? A voice cannot carry the tongue and the lips that give it wings. Alone must it seek the ether. And alone and without his nest shall the eagle fly across the sun.
The words spoken by that tongue and those lips resonate.
Of love he said;
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.
Of marriage he wisely opined;
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.
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 often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.” The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
Of Joy and Sorow
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean. And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind? And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
Of Crime and Punishment;
Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world. But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.
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 met the soul walking upon my path.”
And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also. For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.
Of Good and Evil;
Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil. For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?
Next year, or sooner, I shall read The Prophet once more and my soul will again be refreshed.