Kahlil Gibran Selected Couplets

Sun 13 January 2019 by Thejaswi Puthraya

I love Kahlil Gibran's poetry and have been collecting his couplets as I read his books. Here are a few that I loved:

  • A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.
  • He who does not seek advice is a fool. His folly blinds him to truth and makes him evil, stubborn and a danger to his fellow man.
  • The heart's affections are divided like branches of the cedar tree, if the tree loses one strong branch, it will suffer but it does not die. It will pour all of it's vitality into the next branch so that it will grow and fill the empty place.
  • Not everyone in chains is subdued. At times, a chain is greater than a necklace.
  • Oh Jesus, they have built these churches for the sake of their own glory, and embellished them with silk and melted gold. They left the bodies of the chosen poor wrapped in tattered raiment in the cold night. They filled the sky with the smoke of burning candles and incense and left the bodies of thy faithful worshippers empty of bread. They raised their voices with hymns of praise, but deafened themselves to the cry and moans of widows and orphans.
  • Come again, O Living Jesus, and drive the vendors of thy faith from thy sacred temple, for they have turned into a dark cave where vipers or hypocrisy and falsehood crawl and abound.
  • What is it to be a good citizen? It is to acknowledge the other person's rights before asserting your own, but always to be concious of your own. It is to create the useful and beautiful with your own hands and to admire what others have created in love and with faith. It is to produce by labour and only by labour and to spend less than you have produced that your children may not be dependent upon the state for support when you are no more.
  • The clergyman erects his temple upon the graves and bones of the devoted worshippers.
  • We who live amid the excitements of the city know nothing of the life of the mountain villagers. We are swept into the current of urban existence, until forget the peaceful rhythms of simple country life, reap in autumn, rest in winter, imitating nature in all her cycles. What we sow we reap not, they reap what they sow. We are slaves of gain, and they children of contenment. Our draught from the up of life is mixed with bitterness and despair, fear and weariness but they drink the pure vector of life's fulfilment.
  • For the criminal who is weak and poor the narrow cell of death awaits but honour and glory await the rich who conceal the crimes behind their gold and silver and inherited glory.
  • Man is like the foam of the sea, that floats upon the surface of the water. When the wind blows, it vanishes, as if it had never been. Thus are our lives blown away by death.
  • Death is an ending to the son of the earth, but to the soul it is the start, the triumph of life.
  • Remember, one just man causes the devil greater affliction than a million blind followers.
  • There is something in our life which is nobler and more supreme than fame, and this something is the great deed that invokes fame.
  • Are you a governor looking down on those you govern, never stirring abroad except to rifle their pockets or to exploit them for your own profit? If so, you are like tares upon the threshing floor of the nation. Are you a devoted servant who loves the people and is ever watchful over their welfare, and zealous for their success? If so, you are a blessing in the granaries of the land.
  • Say not, "There goes a learned man". Nor, "There a chieftain dignified". The best of men are in the herd and heed the shepherd as their guide.
  • Are you a husband who regards the wrongs he committed as lawful, but those of his wife unlawful? If so, you are like those extinct savages who lived in the caves and covered their nakedness with hides. Or are you a faithful companion, whose wife is ever at his side, sharing his every thought, rapture and victory? If so, you are as one who at dawn walks at the head of the nation toward the high moon of justice, reason and wisdom.
  • Are you a journalist who sells his principles in the market of slaves and who fattens on gossip, misfortune and crime? If so, you are like a ravenous vulture praying upon rotting carrion.
  • Are you a politician who says to himself: "I will use my country for my own benefit?". If so, you are naught but a parasite living on the flesh of others. Or are you a devoted patriot, who whispers into the ear of his inner self: "I love to serve my country as a faithful servant". If so, you are an oasis in the desert, ready to quench the thirst of the wayfarer.
  • Progress is not merely improving the past; it is moving forward toward the future.
  • Great truth that transcends nature does not pass from one being to another by way of human speech. Truth chooses silence to convey her meaning to loving souls.
  • Whoever would be a teacher of men, let him begin his teaching himself before teaching others; and let him teach by example before teaching by word. For he who teaches himself and rectifies his own ways is more deserving of respect and reverence than he who would teach others and rectify their ways.
  • In the mouth of the society are many diseased teeth, decayed to the bones of the jaws. But society makes no efforts to have them extracted and be rid of the affliction. It contents itself with gold fillings. Many are the dentists who treat the decayed teeth of the society with glittering gold.