And a woman who held a baby against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.” And he said: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
-Kahlil Gibran on Children
Isn’t this poem truth and art wrapped into one? And Khalil Gibran makes the two seem mutually indispensable. Which is why he appeals to me intellectually as well as aesthetically. He is a master of analogies and his texts have many that are apt and natural – that of the archer in this poem is close to perfection. Throughout ‘The Prophet’, he manages to bring together great insight into how life works in mesmerising language.