Kahlil Gibran’s timeless wisdom on the purpose of poetry and meaning of work


Kahlil Gibran, born in Lebanon, was a poet, artist, philosophical essayist and a novelist,who emigrated to New York in 1885. His work, written both in Arabic and English was very much influenced by the European modernists of the nineteenth century, with deep mystical, philosophical and spiritual understanding of the world.

Gibran had simple, yet direct style and he used writing to liberate himself; to portrait immigrant life of his family and topics relating to alienation, disruption, industry that eats natural beauty – were often present in his work. For him, poetry was an ideal vehicle to transcend the feelings of emptiness, longing and a way to communicate most intimate desires:

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary. Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, That we may record our emptiness.

How we experience the world around us and allow our mind to make it’s on meaning and relations, that’s how our language is going to be:

All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind.

He also recognized that without innate feeling and sense of love, all our efforts in any life direction are simply futile. In his, maybe the most popular piece “The Prophet” (1923) in 26 prose poems he discusses and shares his view  on most intriguing topics of human kind, ranging from marriage, laws and friendship to the meaning of work, punishment, pain and joy. Even though it wasn’t seen as a piece of distinct value among American critics, it achieved cult status among American youth for several generations.

For Gibran work equals love:

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?

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.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.

Once we fuel our work with passion and love, it’s much probable that we will achieve our goals. And there is nothing more joyful, than the alignment of our values, passions and purpose. Than work is not just work. It becomes eager part of life, intentional and deliberate living, bringing meaning to all aspects of our lives.

If you would like further to explore similar topics, I recommend:

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