Favourites on Friday - Kahlil Gibran Quotes

The original plan was to follow the ‘Kahlil Gibran' post with a selection of quotes that have been attributed to him, but Upton Park beckoned last week.  So, a little later than planned, here they are, along with a selection of Gibran's art.

'Mother Earth'

‘Your daily life is your temple and your religion.  When you enter into it, take with you your all’

‘Your children are not your children.  They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.  They came through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you’

‘Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair’

'Untitled' (from 'The Garden of the Prophet')

‘For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one’

‘Spare me the political events and power struggles as the whole earth is my homeland and all men are my fellow countrymen’

‘Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking’

'The Summit' (from 'Sand and Foam')

‘I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers’

‘Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens’

‘Love … it surrounds every being and extends slowly to embrace all that shall be’


‘I prefer to be a dreamer among the humblest, with visions to be realized, than lord among those without dreams and desires’

‘March on.  Do not tarry.  To go forward is to move toward perfection.  March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path’

‘If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours.  And if they do not, they never were’

'The Marriage of the Prophet'

‘You give but little when you give of your possessions.  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give’

‘Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.  And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.  And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance’

'Harmony at the Peak'

‘Love possesses not nor will it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love’

‘You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance’

‘But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of heaven 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’

'Night Flight Goddess'

Favourites on Friday - Kahlil Gibran

I know Kahlil Gibran mainly as a writer and poet; I did not appreciate how much of an accomplished artist he was.

Born in January 1883 in the town of Bsharri in northern Lebanon, his family moved to America when he was 12 years old.  The family were Maronite Catholics; his mother was the daughter of a priest, and his father, her third husband, was an apothecary.

Bsharri Maronite Christianity was started by the disciples of Saint Maron, a 4th century monk, who, together with his followers, left Antioch and settled near the Orontes River.  When he died in 410, Maron's followers continued his mission, building monasteries in the mountains of Lebanon.

While still in Lebanon, Gibran received no formal education due to the family’s poverty, but priests who visited regularly, taught him the Bible and the Arabic alphabet.  Gibran’s father, already unable to pay gambling debts, was imprisoned for embezzlement following the investigation of the administrator he’d been working for, and the family’s property was confiscated.  Gibran’s mother, Kamila, decided to follow her brother, and move to the United States with her children, which she did in 1895 despite the fact that her husband had been released from prison in 1894.

They settled in, what was at the time, the 2nd largest Syrian-Lebanese community in America, in Boston’s South End.  Gibran was enrolled in school, and Kamila found work as a seamstress.  When he turned 15, Gibran returned to Lebanon to continue his studies there – his mother and older half-brother, Peter, wanted him to learn about his heritage, and not just absorb the Western culture that he was attracted to.  While attending a higher-education institute in Beirut, he and a fellow student started a student literary magazine, and he was elected ‘college poet’.

Gibran returned to Boston in 1902, two weeks after his younger sister, Sultana, had died of tuberculosis, aged 14.  The following year, he lost his brother, Peter, also to tuberculosis, and his mother, to cancer.  His remaining sibling, Marianna, supported both of them with her job at a dressmaker’s shop.

'Portrait of the artist's mother' ~ Kahlil Gibran

Gibran attended art school in Paris from 1908-1910, excelling in drawing and watercolour.  He held his first art exhibition in 1904 in Boston, at the studio of Fred Holland Day, a photographer and publisher.  Day spent his days tutoring and mentoring the poor immigrant children in Boston, and that was where he and Gibran had first met when the latter was 13-years-old.

Fred Holland Day

Kahlil Gibran - taken by Fred Holland Day

It was at the 1904 exhibition that Gibran met Mary Elizabeth Haskell, a headmistress 10 years his senior.  Their close friendship, which lasted till Gibran's death, led to rumours and claims that they were lovers although there is no evidence that their relationship was, in any way, physical.  Haskell later married another man, but she continued to support Gibran financially.  Using her influence to advance his career, she became his editor.

Mary Elizabeth Haskell

Gibran’s early writings were in Arabic, but after 1918, most of his work was published in English.  His best known work is The Prophet, a book of 26 prose poetry essays, published in 1923.  Translated into more than 40 languages, it has never been out of print.

Kahlil Gibran died in New York City on April 1h 1931, of cirrhosis of the liver and tuberculosis; he was 48.  Although he had lived most of his life in America, he never became a US citizen for he loved his birthplace too much to renounce it.  In 1932, his wish to be buried in Lebanon was fulfilled when Mary Haskell, and his sister, Marianna, purchased the Mar Sarkis Monastery in Lebanon, which eventually became the Gibran Museum.

Gibran Museum, and his final resting place

Written next to his grave are the words:

I am alive like you, and I am standing beside you.

Close your eyes and look around,

You will see me in front of you.

In Lebanon, Gibran is still celebrated as a literary hero.  He is the 3rd best-selling poet of all time, after Shakespeare and Lao Tzu. Personally, I think he should also be celebrated for his art.

'Divine World'

'Jesus, Son of Man'