Have you spent lazy evenings musing about the meaning of love or the definition of freedom? Or spent nights wondering about the purpose of life or what’s in store for us in the afterlife? Many a time, these conundrums don’t have an answer. More often than not, these reflections are also accompanied by a plethora of emotions. Some happy, others not very. You may agree that it is quite hard to express such feelings through words. However, Lebanese-American philosopher and writer Kahlil Gibran describes these emotions effortlessly in his book The Prophet, a collection of prose-poetry.
The book begins with the protagonist Almustafa thinking about the time he has spent in Orphalese, and the people of the town he is going to leave forever. Almustafa has spent 12 years of his life in exile in Orphalese. Eventually, the people of the town look up to him as The Chosen One or The Prophet. Before he departs, he is asked a set of questions on various subjects by the townsfolk. Each of these topics makes for an individual chapter in the book. Be it an expectant mother asking about parenting, a rich man talking about charity, a priest seeking the purpose of religion, or a lawyer asking about the law of the land, the Prophet answers them all with great insight.
Interestingly, Gibran was inspired to write The Prophet for the people of his home country, Lebanon. Many a prophet have lived in Lebanon, some of whom have claimed to speak the words of God. Gibran’s work, on the contrary, is a direct challenge to those claiming to know the absolute truth. His words seem to awaken people as if to dust cobwebs off their minds. Indeed, his verses encourage people to seek the truth by looking within.
Gibran’s masterful use of words weaves a story which anyone can relate to. His words are infused with passion and vigour, seldom seen in the works of non-native English writers. For instance, an insightful verse on love says:
“To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.”
Such verses touch the deep recesses of the soul. Magically, the more we read them, the more we understand Gibran’s words. The book can be a soothing companion for a wandering soul, an inspiration for a poet or even a thoughtful gift for a parting lover. Gibran makes the reader return to The Prophet, like waves return to the shore.