Saturday, July 02, 2005

Prophet on children

I still found 'On Children' impressive when reading Khalil Gibran's "The Prophet" a few weeks ago. This Lebonese poet could use both Arabic and English. Written in the latter language, "The Prophet"(1923) has remained as his best known work today.

'Two children' by Roman Vishniac, 1938 (

On Children, from The Prophet

And a woman who held a babe 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.

I once quoted this piece to conclude an essay in college (and it is really suited to help reaching the required number of words for that paper). I hope this aphoristic composition may inspire some parents nowadays. There is an animated version too.