Top Quotes of Kahlil Gibran: A Literary Hero
BY: Mary Elbanna/Contributing Writer
Kahlil Gibran was a renowned poet, artist, novelist, and philosopher from Bsharri, Lebanon who immigrated to the United States with his family when he was a child. Gibran grew up in Boston, and became heavily interested in the arts. He took up drawing in school and often explored the cultural world within Boston. At his local public school, Gibran’s teachers noticed his artistic potential and contacted a local artist by the name of Fred Holland Day, who served as a mentor and catalyst for Gibran’s lifelong career in the arts.
In 1904, Kahlil Gibran had his very first art exhibition in Boston. Afterwards, he went on to study art in Paris from 1908 to 1910. After completing his studies, he decided to move to New York, where he began to devote all of his time to painting and writing.
Gibran’s ultimate passion was revealed when he began his literary career and became a prominent part of modern Arabic literature, keeping ties to his Lebanese birthplace. He was even considered a “rebel” in the Arab world for defying the classical literary style, and opting instead for a unique romantic style that served at the heart of a literary revival period for modern Arabic literature. To this day, he is still celebrated as a hero in the Arabic literary world.
Gibran rose to prominence in the English literary world when he began writing poetic and philosophical essays, as well as prose poetry beginning in 1918. Five years later, Gibran published a book titled The Prophet that would become his most famous piece of literature. The Prophet propelled Gibran to become one of the top three best-selling poets of all time, behind Lao-Tzu and Shakespeare. The Prophet is an inspirational fiction collection of philosophical essays written, using the style of English prose poetry that has been translated into more than 20 different languages, and has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide.
Kahlil Gibran has paved the way for many other Arab writers in America, and even created a society for him and other Arab authors in the U.S. Gibran’s prominence in both the English-speaking and Arabic-speaking world allows him to serve as an inspiration to Arab Americans, as he, like many others who immigrated to a new country at a young age, and used his passions to captivate the world.
Here are 21 of Kahlil Gibran’s most influential quotes:
1. “In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
2. “Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.”
3. “But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens 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.”
4. “If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don’t, they never were.”
5. “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.”
6. “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
7. “Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
8. “Love possesses not nor will it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love.”
9. “I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers.”
10. “Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.”
11. “Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
12. “If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?”
13. “I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.”
14. “Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.”
15. “We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.”
16. “A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?”
17. “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.”
18. “Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood.”
19. “Love… it surrounds every being and extends slowly to embrace all that shall be.”
20. “Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.”
21. “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.”