By Kahlil Gibran, 1883-1931, Lebanon.
Submitted by Leslie Robertson, who likely didn’t expect me to post the whole passage from which she quoted. This passage is only a small piece of the whole; to read more, click the Passage source: Project Gutenberg Australia.
I AM IGNORANT of absolute truth. But I am humble before my ignorance and therein lies my honor and my reward.
There is a space between man’s imagination and man’s attainment that may only be traversed by his longing.
Paradise is there, behind that door, in the next room; but I have lost the key.
Perhaps I have only mislaid it.
You are blind and I am deaf and dumb, so let us touch hands and understand.
The significance of man is not in what he attains, but rather in what he longs to attain.
Some of us are like ink and some like paper.
And if it were not for the blackness of some of us, some of us would be dumb;
And if it were not for the whiteness of some of us, some of us would be blind.
Give me an ear and I will give you a voice.
Our mind is a sponge; our heart is a stream.
Is it not strange that most of us choose sucking rather than running?
When you long for blessings that you may not name, and when you grieve knowing not the cause, then indeed you are growing with all things that grow, and rising toward your greater self.
When one is drunk with a vision, he deems his faint expression of it the very wine.
You drink wine that you may be intoxicated; and I drink that it may sober me from that other wine.
When my cup is empty I resign myself to its emptiness; but when it is half full I resent its half-fulness.
The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you.
Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather to what he does not say.
Half of what I say is meaningless; but I say it so that the other half may reach you.
A sense of humour is a sense of proportion.
My loneliness was born when men praised my talkative faults and blamed my silent virtues.
When Life does not find a singer to sing her heart she produces a philosopher to speak her mind.
A truth is to be known always, to be uttered sometimes.
The real in us is silent; the acquired is talkative.
The voice of life in me cannot reach the ear of life in you; but let us talk that we may not feel lonely.
When two women talk they say nothing; when one woman speaks she reveals all of life.
Frogs may bellow louder than bulls, but they cannot drag the plough in the field not turn the wheel of the winepress, and of their skins you cannot make shoes.
Only the dumb envy the talkative.
If winter should say, “Spring is in my heart,” who would believe winter?
Every seed is a longing.
Should you really open your eyes and see, you would behold your image in all images.
And should you open your ears and listen, you would hear your own voice in all voices.
It takes two of us to discover truth: one to utter it and one to understand it.
Though the wave of words is forever upon us, yet our depth is forever silent.
Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth.
Now let us play hide and seek. Should you hide in my heart it would not be difficult to find you. But should you hide behind your own shell, then it would be useless for anyone to seek you. A woman may veil her face with a smile.
How noble is the sad heart who would sing a joyous song with joyous hearts.
He who would understand a woman, or dissect genius, or solve the mystery of silence is the very man who would wake from a beautiful dream to sit at a breakfast table.
I would walk with all those who walk. I would not stand still to watch the procession passing by.
You owe more than gold to him who serves you. Give him of your heart or serve him.
Nay, we have not lived in vain. Have they not built towers of our bones?
Let us not be particular and sectional. The poet’s mind and the scorpion’s tail rise in glory from the same earth.
Every dragon gives birth to a St. George who slays it.
Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. We fell them down and turn them into paper that we may record our emptiness.
Should you care to write (and only the saints know why you should) you must needs have knowledge and art and music — the knowledge of the music of words, the art of being artless, and the magic of loving your readers.
They dip their pens in our hearts and think they are inspired.
Should a tree write its autobiography it would not be unlike the history of a race.
If I were to choose between the power of writing a poem and the ecstasy of a poem unwritten, I would choose the ecstasy. It is better poetry.
But you and all my neighbors agree that I always choose badly.
Poetry is not an opinion expressed. It is a song that rises from a bleeding wound or a smiling mouth.
Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness.