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The PROPHET, by Kahlil Gibran

Table of Contents:

Prologue: The Coming of the Ship

Epilogue: The Farewell

Prologue: The Coming of the Ship

ALMUSTAFA, the chosen and
the beloved, who was a dawn onto his own
day, had waited twelve years in the city of
Orphalese for his ship that was to return
and bear him back to the isle of his birth.

And in the twelfth year, on the seventh
day of Ielool, the month of reaping, he
climbed the hill without the city walls
and looked seaward; and he beheld the ship
coming with the mist.

Then the gates of his heart were flung
open, and his joy flew far over the sea. And
he closed his eyes and prayed in the silences
of his soul.

But he descended the hill, a sadness
came upon him, and he thought in his heart:

How shall I go in peace and without
sorrow? Nay, not without a wound in the
spirit shall I leave this city.

Long were the days of pain I have spent
within its walls, and long were the nights of
aloneness; and who can depart from his pain
and his aloneness without regret?

Too many fragments of the spirit have
I scattered in these streets, and too many
are the children of my longing that walk
naked among these hills, and I cannot with-
draw from them without a burden and an

It is not a garment I cast off this day,
but a skin that I tear with my own hands.

Nor is it a thought I leave behind me, but
a heart made sweet with hunger and with

Yet I cannot tarry longer.

The sea that calls all things unto her calls
me, and I must embark.

For to stay, though the hours burn in
the night, is to freeze and crystallize and be
bound in a mould.

Fain would I take with me all that is
here. But how shall I?

A voice cannot carry the tongue and the
lips that give it wings. Alone must it seek
the ether.

And alone and without his nest shall the
eagle fly across the sun.

Now when he reached the foot of the
hill, he turned again towards the sea, and
he saw his ship approaching the harbour,
and upon her prow the mariners, the men
of his own land.

And his soul cried out to them, and he said:

Sons of my ancient mother, you riders
of the tides,
How often have you sailed in my dreams.
And now you come in my awakening, which
is my deeper dream.

Ready am I to go, and my eagerness with
sails full set awaits the wind.

Only another breath will I breathe in
this still air, only another loving look cast
And then I shall stand among you,
a seafarer among seafarers.

And you, vast sea, sleepless mother,
Who alone are peace and freedom to the
river and the stream,
Only another winding will this stream
make, only another murmur in this glade,
And then shall I come to you, a bound-
less drop to a boundless ocean.

And as he walked he saw from afar men
and women leaving their fields and their vine-
yards and hastening towards the city gates.

And he heard their voices calling his
name, and shouting from the field to field telling
one another of the coming of the ship.

And he said to himself:

Shall the day of parting be the day of

And shall it be said that my eve was in
truth my dawn?

And what shall I give unto him who has
left his plough in midfurrow, or to him who
has stopped the wheel of his winepress?

Shall my heart become a tree heavy-laden
with fruit that I may gather and give unto

And shall my desires flow like a fountain
that I may fill their cups?

Am I a harp that the hand of the mighty
may touch me, or a flute that his breath
may pass through me?

A seeker of silences am I, and what
treasure have I found in silences that I may
dispense with confidence?

If this is my day of harvest, in what
fields have I sowed the seed, and in what
unremembered seasons?

If this indeed be the our in which I lift
up my lantern, it is not my flame that shall
burn therein.

Empty and dark shall I raise my lantern,
And the guardian of the night shall fill
it with oil and he shall light it also.

These things he said in words. But much
in his heart remained unsaid. For he him-
self could not speak his deeper secret.

And when he entered into the city all the
people came to meet him, and they were
crying out to him as with one voice.
And the elders of the city stood forth and

Go not yet away from us.

A noontide have you been in our twi-
light, and your youth has given us dreams
to dream.

No stranger are you among us, nor a
guest, but our son and our dearly beloved.

Suffer not yet our eyes to hunger for
your face.

And the priests and the priestesses said
unto him:

Let not the waves of the sea separate us
now, and the years you have spent in our
midst become a memory.

You have walked among us a spirit, and
your shadow has been a light upon our faces.

Much have we loved you. But speechless
was our love, and with veils has it been

Yet now it cries aloud unto you, and
would stand revealed before you.

And ever has it been that love knows not
its own depth until the hour of separation.

And others came also and entreated him.

But he answered them not. He only bent
his head; and those who stood near saw his
tears falling upon his breast.

And he and the people proceeded towards
the great square before the temple.

And there came out of the sanctuary a
woman whose name was Almitra. And she
was a seeress.

And he looked upon her with exceeding
tenderness, for it was she who had first
sought and believed in him when he had
been but a day in their city.

And she hailed him, saying:

Prophet of God, in quest for the uttermost,
long have you searched the distances for
your ship.

And now your ship has come, and you must
needs go.

Deep is your longing for the land of your
memories and the dwelling place of your
greater desires; and our love would not bind
you nor our needs hold you.

Yet this we ask ere you leave us, that you
speak to us and give us of your truth.

And we will give it unto our children,
and they unto their children, and it shall
not perish.

In your aloneness you have watched with
our days, and in your wakefulness you have
listened to the weeping and the laughter of
our sleep.

Now therefore disclose us to ourselves,
and tell us all that has been shown you of
that which is between birth and death.
And he answered,
People of Orphalese, of what can I speak
save of that which is even now moving
within your souls?

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THEN said Almitra, Speak to us of Love.

And he raised his head and looked upon
the people, and there fell a stillness upon
them. And with a great voice he said:

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions
may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he
crucify you. Even as he is for your growth
so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and
caresses your tenderest branches that quiver
in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and
shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto

He threshes you to make you naked.

He sifts you to free you from your husks.

He grinds you to whiteness.

He kneads you until you are pliant;

And then he assigns you to his sacred
fire, that you may become sacred bread for
God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you
that you may know the secrets of your
heart, and in that knowledge become a
fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only
love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover
your nakedness and pass out of love's
Into the seasonless world where you
shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes
naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say,
God is in my heart," but rather, "I am
in the heart of God."

And think not you can direct the course
of love, for love, if it finds you worthy,
directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill

But if you love and must needs have
desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook
that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding
of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

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.

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THEN Almitra spoke again and said, And what of Marriage, master?

And he answered saying:

You were born together, and together you
shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when the white
wings of death scatter your days.

Ay, you shall be together even in the
silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance
between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond
of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between
the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup but drink not from
one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat
not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but no into each
other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain
your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow
not in each other's shadow.

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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
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 to-
morrow, 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.

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THEN said a rich man, Speak to us of Giving.

And he answered:

You give but little when you give of your

It is when you give of yourself that you
truly give.

For what are your possessions but things
you keep and guard for fear you may need
them tomorrow?

And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow
bring to the overprudent dog burying bones
in the trackless sand as he follows the
pilgrims to the holy city?

And what is fear of need but need itself?

Is not dread of thirst when your well is
full, the thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little of the
much which they have---and they give it
for recognition and their hidden desire
makes their gifts unwholesome.

And there are those who have little and
give it all.

These are the believers in life and the
bounty of life, and their coffer is never

There are those who give with joy, and
that joy is their reward.

And there are those who give with pain,
and that pain is their baptism.

And there are those who give and know
not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy,
nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle
breathes its fragrance into space.

Through the hands of such as these God
speaks, and from behind their eyes He
smiles upon the earth.

It is well to give when asked, but it is
better to give unasked, through under- standing;
And to the open-handed the search for
one who shall receive is joy greater than

And is there aught you would withhold?

All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of
giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.

You often say, "I would give, but only
to the deserving."

The trees in your orchard say not so, nor
the flocks in your pasture.

They give that they may live, for to with-
hold is to perish.

Surely he who is worthy to receive his
days and his nights, is worthy of all else
from you.

And he who has deserved to drink from
the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup
from your little stream.

And what desert greater shall there be,
than that which lies in the courage and the
confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?

And who are you that men should rend
their bosom and unveil their pride, that you
may see their worth naked and their pride

See first that you yourself deserve to be
a giver, and an instrument of giving.

For in truth it is life that gives unto
life---while you, who deem yourself a giver,
are but a witness.

And you receivers---and you are all
receivers---assume no weight of gratitude,
lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon
him who gives.

Rather rise together with the giver on
his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is
to doubt his generosity who has the free-
hearted earth for mother, and God for

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THEN an old man, a keeper of an inn, said, Speak to us of Eating and Drinking.

And he said:

Would that you could live on the fra-
grance of the earth, and like an air plant
be sustained by the light.

But since you must kill to eat, and rob the
newly born of its mother's milk to quench
your thirst, let it then be an act of worship.

And let your board stand an altar on
which the pure and the innocent of forest
and plain are sacrificed for that which is
purer and still more innocent in man.

When you kill a beast say to him in your
By the same power that slays you, I
too am slain; and I too shall be consumed.
For the law that delivered you into my
hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.
Your book and my book is naught but
the sap that feeds the tree of heaven."

And when you crush an apple with your
teeth, say to it in your heart,
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall
blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through
all the seasons."

And in the autumn, when you gather
the grapes of your vineyards for the wine-
press, say in your heart,
I too am a vineyard, and my fruit shall
be gathered for the winepress,
And like the new wine I shall be kept in
eternal vessels."

And in winter, when you draw the wine,
let there be in your heart a song for each
And let there be in the song a remem-
brance for the autumn days, and for the
vineyard, and for the winepress.

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THEN a ploughman said, Speak to us of Work.

And he answered, saying:

You work that you may keep pace with
the earth and the soul of the earth.

For to be idle is to become a stranger
unto the seasons, and to step out of life's
procession, that marches in majesty and
proud submission towards the infinite.

When you work you are a flute through
whose heart the whispering of the hours
turns to music.

Which of you would be a reed, dumb and
silent, when all else sings together in unison?

Always you have been told that work is
a curse and labour a misfortune.

But I say to you that when you work
you fulfill a part of earth's furthest dream,
assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you
are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be
intimate with life's inmost secret.

But if you in your pain call birth an
affliction and the support of the flesh a curse
written upon your brow, then I answer
that naught but the sweat of your brow
shall wash away that which is written.

You have been told also that life is dark-
ness, and in your weariness you echo what
was said by the weary.

And I say that life is indeed darkness
save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is
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?

It is to weave the cloth with threads
drawn from your heart, even as if your
beloved were to wear that cloth.

It is to build a house with affection, even
as if your beloved were to dwell in that

It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap
the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved
were to eat the fruit.

It is to charge all things you fashion with
a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead
are standing about you and watching.

Often have I heard you say, as if speaking
in sleep, "He who works in marble, and
finds the shape of his own soul in the stone,
is nobler than he who ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it
on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more
than he who makes the sandals for our feet."

But I say, not in sleep but in the over-
wakefulness of noontide, that the wind
speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks
than to the least of all the blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice
of the wind into a song made sweeter by
his own loving.

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.

And if you grudge the crushing of the
grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the

And if you sing through as angels, and
love not the singing, you muffle man's ears
to the voices of the day and the voices of
the night.

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THEN a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.

And he answered:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your
laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your
being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very
cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your
spirit, the very wood that was hollowed
with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into
your heart and you shall find it is only that
which has given you sorrow that is giving
you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in
your heart, and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that which has been
your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than
sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is
the greater."

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits
alone with you at your board, remember
that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales be-
tween your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at
standstill and balanced.

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to
weigh his gold and his silver, needs must
your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

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THEN a mason came forward and said, Speak to us of Houses.

Speak to us of Houses.

And he answered and said:

Build of your imaginings a bower in the
wilderness ere you build a house within
the city walls.

For even as you have home-comings in
your twilight, so has the wanderer in you,
the ever distant and alone.

Your house is your larger body.

It grows in the sun and sleeps in the
stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless.
Does not your house dream? And dreaming,
leave the city for grove or hilltop?

Would that I could gather your houses
into my hand, and like a sower scatter them
in forest and meadow.

Would the valleys were your streets,
and the green paths your alleys, that you
might seek one another through vineyards,
and come with the fragrance of the earth in
your garments.

But these things are not yet to be.

In their fear your forefathers gathered
you too near together. And that fear shall
endure a little longer. A little longer shall
your city walls separate your hearths from your

And tell me, people of Orphalese, what
have you in these houses? And what is it
you guard with fastened doors?

Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals
your power?

Have you remembrances, the glimmering
arches that span the summits of the mind?

Have you beauty, that leads the heart
from things fashioned of wood and stone to
the holy mountain?

Tell me, have you these in your houses?

Or have you only comfort, and the lust
for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters
the house a guest, and becomes a host,
and then a master?

Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook
and scourge makes puppets of your larger

Though its hands are silken, its heart
is of iron.

It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your
bed and jeer at the dignity of the flesh.

It makes mock of your sound senses, and
lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels.

Verily the lust for comfort murders the
passion of the soul, and then walks grinning
in the funeral.

But you, children of space, you restless in
rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.

Your house shall be not an anchor but a

It shall not be a glistening film that covers
a wound, but an eyelid that guards the

You shall not fold your wings that you
may pass through doors, nor bend your
heads that they strike not against a ceiling,
nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack
and fall down.

You shall not dwell in tombs made by
the dead for the living.

And though of magnificence and splen-
dour, your house shall not hold your secret
nor shelter your longing.

For that which is boundless in you abides
in the mansion of the sky, whose door is
the morning mist, and whose windows are
the songs and the silences of night.

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AND the weaver said, Speak to us of Clothes.

And he answered:

Your clothes conceal much of your beauty,
yet they hide not the unbeautiful.

And though you seek in garments the
freedom of privacy you may find in them
a harness and a chain.

Would that you could meet the sun and
the wind with more of your skin and less
of your raiment,
For the breath of life is in the sunlight
and the hand of life is in the wind.

Some of you say, "It is the north wind
who has woven the clothes we wear."

And I say, Ay, it was the north wind,
But shame was his loom, and the soften-
ing of the sinews was his thread.

And when his work was done he laughed
in the forest.

Forget not that modesty is for a shield
against the eye of the unclean.

And when the unclean shall be no more,
what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling
of the mind?

And forget not that the earth delights to
feel your bare feet and the winds long to
play with your hair.

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AND a merchant said, Speak to us of Buying and Selling.

And he answered and said:

To you the earth yields her fruit, and you
shall not want if you but know how to fill
your hands.

It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth
that you shall find abundance and be satisfied.

Yet unless the exchange be in love and
kindly justice, it will but lead some to greed
and others to hunger.

When in the market place you toilers of
the sea and fields and vineyards meet the
weavers and the potters and the gatherers of
spices, ---

Invoke then the master spirit of the earth,
to come into your midst and sanctify the
scales and the reckoning that weighs value
against value.

And suffer not the barren-handed to take
part in your transactions, who would sell
their words for your labour.

To such men you should say,
"Come with us to the field, or go with
our brothers to the sea and cast your net;
For the land and the sea shall be bountiful
to you even as to us."

And if there come the singers and the
dancers and the flute players, - buy of their
gifts also.

For they too are gatherers of fruit and
frankincense, and that which they bring,
though fashioned of dreams, is raiment
and food for your soul.

And before you leave the market place,
see that no one has gone his way with
empty hands.

For the master spirit of the earth shall
not sleep peacefully upon the wind till the
needs of the least of you are satisfied.

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THEN one of the judges of the city stood forth and said, Speak to us of
Crime and Punishment.

And he answered, saying:

It is when your spirit goes wandering upon
the wind,
That you, alone and unguarded, commit
a wrong unto others and therefore unto

And for that wrong committed must you
knock and wait a while unheeded at the
gate of the blessed.

Like the ocean is your god-self;

It remains for ever undefiled.

And like the ether it lifts but the winged.

Even like the sun is your god-self;

It knows not the ways of the mole nor
seeks it the holes of the serpent.

But your god-self does not dwell alone in your being.

Much in you is still man, and much in
you is not yet man,
But a shapeless pygmy that walks asleep
in the mist searching for its own awakening.

And of the man in you would I now

For it is he and not your god-self nor
the pygmy in the mist, that knows crime
and the punishment of crime.

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one
who commits a wrong as though he were
not one of you, but a stranger unto you and
an intruder upon your world.

But I say that even as the holy and the
righteous cannot rise beyond the highest
which is in each one of you,
So the wicked and the weak cannot fall
lower than the lowest which is in you also.

And as a single leaf turns not yellow but
with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,
So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong
without the hidden will of you all.

Like a procession you walk together to-
wards your god-self.

You are the way and the wayfarers.

And when one of you falls down he falls
for those behind him, a caution against the
stumbling stone.

Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him,
who though faster and surer of foot, yet
removed not the stumbling stone.

And this also, though the word lie heavy
upon your hearts:

The murdered is not unaccountable for
his own murder,
And the robbed is not blameless in being

The righteous is not innocent of the deeds
of the wicked,
And the white-handed is not clean in the
doings of the felon.

Yea, the guilty is oftentimes the victim
of the injured,
And still more often the condemned is the
burden-bearer for the guiltless and unblamed.

You cannot separate the just from the un-
just and the good from the wicked;

For they stand together before the face
of the sun even as the black thread and the
white are woven together.

And when the black thread breaks, the
weaver shall look into the whole cloth, and
he shall examine the loom also.

If any of you would bring judgment
the unfaithful wife,
Let him also weight the heart of her hus-
band in scales, and measure his soul with

And let him who would lash the offender
look unto the spirit of the offended.

And if any of you would punish in the
name of righteousness and lay the ax unto
the evil tree, let him see to its roots;

And verily he will find the roots of the
good and the bad, the fruitful and the fruit-
less, all entwined together in the silent heart
of the earth.

And you judges who would be just,
What judgment pronounce you upon him
who though honest in the flesh yet is a thief
in spirit?

What penalty lay you upon him who
slays in the flesh yet is himself slain in the

And how prosecute you him who in action
is a deceiver and an oppressor,
Yet who also is aggrieved and outraged?

And how shall you punish those whose
remorse is already greater than their mis-

Is not remorse the justice which is ad-
ministered by that very law which you
would fain serve?

Yet you cannot lay remorse upon
the innocent nor lift it from the heart of the

Unbidden shall it call in the night, that
men may wake and gaze upon themselves.

And you who would understand justice,
how shall you unless you look upon all deeds
in the fullness of light?

Only then shall you know that the erect
and the fallen are but one man standing in
twilight between the night of his pygmy-
self and the day of his god-self,
And that the corner-stone of the temple
is not higher than the lowest stone in its

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THEN a lawyer said, But what of our Laws, master?

And he answered:

You delight in laying down laws,
Yet you delight more in breaking them.

Like children playing by the ocean who
build sand-towers with constancy and then
destroy them with laughter.

But while you build your sand-towers the
ocean brings more sand to the shore,
And when you destroy them, the ocean
laughs with you.

Verily the ocean laughs always with the

But what of those to whom life is not an
ocean, and man-made laws are not sand-
But to whom life is a rock, and the law
a chisel with which they would carve it in
their own likeness?

What of the cripple who hates dancers?

What of the ox who loves his yoke and
deems the elk and deer of the forest stray
and vagrant things?

What of the old serpent who cannot
shed his skin, and calls all others naked
and shameless?

And of him who comes early to the
wedding-feast, and when over-fed and tired
goes his way saying that all feasts are
violation and all feasters law-breakers?

What shall I say of these save that they
too stand in the sunlight, but with their
backs to the sun?

They see only their shadows, and their
shadows are their laws.

And what is the sun to them but a caster
of shadows?

And what is it to acknowledge the laws
but to stoop down and trace their shadows
upon the earth?

But you who walk facing the sun, what
images drawn on the earth can hold you?

You who travel with the wind, what
weathervane shall direct your course?

What man's law shall bind you if you
break your yoke but upon no man's prison

What laws shall you fear if you dance
but stumble against no man's iron chains?

And who is he that shall bring you to
judgment if you tear off your garment yet
leave it in no man's path?

People of Orphalese, you can muffle the
drum, and you can loosen the strings of the
lyre, but who shall command the skylark
not to sing?

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AND an orator said, Speak to us of Freedom.

And he answered:

At the city gate and by your fireside I
have seen you prostrate yourself and worship
your own freedom,
Even as slaves humble themselves before
a tyrant and praise him though he slays

Ay, in the grove of the temple and in
the shadow of the citadel I have seen the
freest among you wear their freedom as a
yoke and a handcuff.

And my heart bled within me; for you
can only be free when even the desire of
seeking freedom becomes a harness to you,
and when you cease to speak of freedom
as a goal and a fulfillment.

You shall be free indeed when your days
are not without a care nor your nights with-
out a want and a grief,
But rather when these things girdle your
life and yet you rise above them naked and

And how shall you rise beyond your
days and nights unless you break the chains
which you at the dawn of your under-
standing have fastened around your noon

In truth that which you call freedom is
the strongest of these chains, though its
links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes.

And what is it but fragments of your own
self you would discard that you may become

If it is an unjust law you would abolish,
that law was written with your own hand
upon your own forehead.

You cannot erase it by burning your law
books nor by washing the foreheads of your
judges, though you pour the sea upon them.

And if it is a despot you would dethrone,
see first that his throne erected within you is

For how can a tyrant rule the free and
the proud, but for a tyranny in their own
freedom and a shame in their won pride?

And if it is a care you would cast off, that
care has been chosen by you rather than
imposed upon you.

And if it is a fear you would dispel, the
seat of that fear is in your heart and not in
the hand of the feared.

Verily all things move within your being
in constant half embrace, the desired and
the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished,
the pursued and that which you would

These things move within you as lights
and shadows in pairs that cling.

And when the shadow fades and is no
more, the light that lingers becomes a
shadow to another light.

And thus your freedom when it loses its
fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater

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AND the priestess spoke again and said: Speak to us of Reason and Passion.

And he answered, saying:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon
which your reason and your judgment wage
war against passion and your appetite.

Would that I could be the peacemaker
in your soul, that I might turn the discord
and the rivalry of your elements into one-
ness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be
also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all
your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the
rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either your sails or our rudder be
broken, you can but toss and drift, or else
be held at a standstill in mid-seas.

For reason, ruling alone, is a force con-
fining; and passion, unattended, is a flame
that burns to its own destruction.

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason
to the height of passion; that it may sing;

And let it direct your passion with
reason, that your passion may live through
its own daily resurrection, and like the
phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judg-
ment and your appetite even as you would
two loved guests in your house.

Surely you would not honour one guest
above the other; for he who is more mind-
ful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool
shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace
and serenity of distant fields and meadows
--- then let your heart say in silence, "God
rests in reason."

And when the storm comes, and the
mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder
and lightning proclaim the majesty of the
sky, --- then let your heart say in awe, "God
moves in passion."

And since you are a breath In God's
sphere, and a leaf in God's forest, you too
should rest in reason and move in passion.

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AND a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain.

And he said:

Your pain is the breaking of the shell
that encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break,
that its heart may stand in the sun, so must
you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder
at the daily miracles of your life, your pain
would not seem less wondrous than your

And you would accept the seasons of your
heart, even as you have always accepted
the seasons that pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity
through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

It is the bitter potion by which the phy-
sician within you heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink
his remedy in silence and tranquillity:

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is
guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn
your lips, has been fashioned of the clay
which the Potter has moistened with His
own sacred tears.

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AND a man said, Speak to us of Self-Knowledge.

And he answered, saying:

Your hearts know in silence the secrets
of the days and the nights.

But your ears thirst for the sound of
your heart's knowledge.

You would know in words that which
you have always know in thought.

You would touch with your fingers the
naked body of your dreams.

And it is well you should.

The hidden well-spring of your soul must
needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;

And the treasure of your infinite depths
would be revealed to your eyes.

But let there be no scales to weigh your
unknown treasure;

And seek not the depths of your knowl-
edge with staff or sounding line.

For self is a sea boundless and measure-

Say not, "I have found the truth," but
rather, "I have found a truth."

Say not, "I have found the path of the soul."
Say rather, "I have met the soul walking
upon my path."

For the soul walks upon all paths.

The soul walks not upon a line, neither
does it grow like a reed.

The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of
countless petals.

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THEN said a teacher, Speak to us of Teaching.

And he said:

No man can reveal to you aught but that
which already lies half asleep in the dawning
of your knowledge.

The teacher who walks in the shadow of the
temple, among his followers, gives not of his
wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.

If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter
the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to
the threshold of your own mind.

The astronomer may speak to you of his under-
standing of space, but he cannot give you his

The musician may sing to you of the rhythm
which is in all space, but he cannot give you the
ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that
echoes it.

And he who is versed in the science of numbers
can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but
he cannot conduct you thither.

For the vision of one man lends not its wings to
another man.

And even as each one of you stands alone in
God's knowledge, so must each one of you be alone
in his knowledge of God and his understanding of the earth.

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AND a youth said, Speak to us of Friendship.

And he answered, saying:

Your friend is your needs answered.

He is your field which you sow with love
and reap with thanksgiving.

And he is your board and your fireside.

For you come to him with your hunger,
and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you
fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor
do you withhold the "ay."

And when he is silent your heart ceases
not to listen to his heart;

For without words, in friendship, all
thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born
and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

When you part from your friend, you
grieve not;

For that which you love most in him may
be clearer in his absence, as the mountain
to the climber is clearer from the plain.

And let there be no purpose in friend-
ship save the deepening of the spirit.

For love that seeks aught but the dis-
closure of its own mystery is not love but
a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable
is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.

If he must know the ebb of your tide,
let him know its flood also.

For what is your friend that you should
seek him with hours to kill?

Seek him always with hours to live.

For it is his to fill your need, but not
your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let
there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.

For in the dew of little things the heart
finds its morning and is refreshed.

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AND then a scholar said, Speak of Talking.

And he answered, saying:

You talk when you cease to be at peace
with your thoughts;

And when you can no longer dwell in the
solitude of your heart you live in your lips,
and sound is a diversion and a pastime.

And in much of your talking, thinking
is half murdered.

For thought is a bird of space, that in a
cage of words many indeed unfold its wings
but cannot fly.

There are those among you who seek the
talkative through fear of being alone.

The silence of aloneness reveals to their
eyes their naked selves and they would es-

And there are those who talk, and with-
out knowledge or forethought reveal a truth
which they themselves do not understand.

And there are those who have the truth
within them, but they tell it not in words.

In the bosom of such as these the spirit
dwells in rhythmic silence.

When you meet your friend on the road-
side or in the market place, let the spirit in
you move your lips and direct your tongue.

Let the voice within your voice speak to
the ear of his ear;

For his soul will keep the truth of your
heart as the taste of the wine is remembered
When the colour is forgotten and the
vessel is no more.

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AND an astronomer said, Master, What of Time?

And he answered:

You would measure time the measure-
less and the immeasurable.

You would adjust your conduct and even
direct the course of your spirit according to
hours and seasons.

Of time you would make a stream upon
whose bank you would sit and watch its

Yet the timeless in you is aware of life's
And knows that yesterday is but today's
memory and tomorrow is today's dream.

And that that which sings and contem-
plates in you is still dwelling within the
bounds of that first moment which scat-
tered the stars into space.

Who among you does not feel that his
power to love is boundless?

And yet who does not feel that very love,
though boundless, encompassed within the
centre of his being, and moving not from
love thought to love thought, nor from
love deeds to other love deeds?

And is not time even as love is, undivided
and spaceless?

But if in you thought you must measure
time into seasons, let each season encircle
all the other seasons,
And let today embrace the past with re-
membrance and the future with longing.

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AND one of the elders of the city said, Speak to us of Good and Evil.

And he answered:

Of the good in you I can speak, but not
of the evil.

For what is evil but good tortured by its
own hunger and thirst?

Verily when good is hungry it seeks food
even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it
drinks even of dead waters.

You are good when you are one with

Yet when you are not one with yourself
you are not evil.

For a divided house is not a den of thieves;
it is only a divided house.

And a ship without rudder may wander
aimlessly among perilous isles yet sink not
to the bottom.

You are good when you strive to give of

Yet you are not evil when you seek gain
for yourself.

For when you strive for gain you are but
a root that clings to the earth and sucks at
her breast.

Surely the fruit cannot say to the root,
"Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving
of your abundance."

For to the fruit giving is a need, as re-
ceiving is a need to the root.

You are good when you are fully awake
in your speech,
Yet you are not evil when you sleep while
your tongue staggers without purpose.

And even stumbling speech may strengthen
a weak tongue.

You are good when you walk to your
goal firmly and with bold steps.

Yet you are not evil when you go thither

Even those who limp go not backward.

But you who are strong and swift, see that
you do not limp before the lame, deeming
it kindness.

You are good in countless ways, and you
are not evil when you are not good,
You are only loitering and sluggard.

Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness
to the turtles.

In your longing for your giant self lies
your goodness: and that longing is in all of

But in some of you that longing is a
torrent rushing with might to the sea, carr-
ying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs
of the forest.

And in others it is a flat stream that loses
itself in angles and bends and lingers before
it reaches the shore.

But let not him who longs much say to
him who longs little, "Wherefore are you
slow and halting?"

For the truly good ask not the naked,
"Where is your garment?" nor the house-
less, "What has befallen your house?"

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THEN a priestess said, Speak to us of Prayer.

And he answered, saying:

You pray in your distress and in your
need; would that you might pray also in
the fullness of your joy and in your days
of abundance.

For what is prayer but the expansion of
yourself into the living ether?

And if it is for your comfort to pour
your darkness into space, it is also for your
delight to pour forth the dawning of your

And if you cannot but weep when your
soul summons you to prayer, she should spur
you again and yet again, though weeping,
until you shall come laughing.

When you pray you rise to meet in the
air those who are praying at that very hour,
and whom save in prayer you may not

Therefore let your visit to that temple in-
visible be for naught but ecstasy and sweet

For if you should enter the temple for no
other purpose than asking you shall not

And if you should enter into it to humble
yourself you shall not be lifted:

Or even if you should enter into it to
beg for the good of others you shall not be

It is enough that you enter the temple

I cannot teach you how to pray in words.

God listens not to your words save when
He Himself utters them through your lips.

And I cannot teach you the prayer of the
seas and the forests and the mountains.

But you who are born of the mountains
and the forests and the seas can find their
prayer in your heart,
And if you but listen in the stillness of the
night you shall hear them saying in silence,
"Our God, who art our winged self, it
is thy will in us that willeth.
It is thy desire in us that desireth.
It is thy urge in us that would turn our
nights, which are thine, into days which are
thine also.
We cannot ask thee for aught, for thou
knowest our needs before they are born in us:
Thou art our need; and in giving us more
of thyself thou givest us all."

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THEN a hermit, who visited the city once a year, came forth and said,
Speak to us of Pleasure.

And he answered, saying:

Pleasure is a freedom song,
But it is not freedom.

It is the blossoming of your desires,
But it is not their fruit.

It is a depth calling unto a height,
But it is not the deep nor the high.

It is the caged taking wing,
But it is not space encompassed.

Ay, in very truth, pleasure is a freedom-
And I fain would have you sing it with
fullness of heart; yet I would not have you
lose your hearts in the singing.

Some of your youth seek pleasure as if it
were all, and they are judged and rebuked.

I would not judge nor rebuke them. I
would have them seek.

For they shall find pleasure, but not her

Seven are her sisters, and the least of them
is more beautiful than pleasure.

Have you not heard of the man who was
digging in the earth for roots and found a

And some of your elders remember
pleasures with regret like wrongs com-
mitted in drunkenness.

But regret is the beclouding of the mind
and not its chastisement.

They should remember their pleasures with
gratitude, as they would the harvest of a

Yet if it comforts them to regret, let them
be comforted.

And there are among you those who are
neither young to seek nor old to remember;

And in their fear of seeking and remem-
bering they shun all pleasures, lest they
neglect the spirit or offend against it.

But even in their foregoing is their

And thus they too find a treasure though
they dig for roots with quivering hands.

But tell me, who is he that can offend the

Shall the nightingale offend the stillness of
the night, or the firefly the stars?

And shall your flame or your smoke
burden the wind?

Think you the spirit is a still pool which
you can trouble with a staff?

Oftentimes in denying yourself pleasure
you do but store the desire in the recesses
of your being.

Who knows but that which seems omitted
today, waits for tomorrow?

Even your body knows its heritage and
its rightful need and will not be deceived.

And your body is the harp of your soul,
And it is yours to bring forth sweet
music from it or confused sounds.

And now you ask in your heart, "How
shall we distinguish that which is good in
pleasure from that which is not good?"

Go to your fields and your gardens, and
you shall learn that it is the pleasure of
the bee to gather honey of the flower,
But it is also the pleasure of the flower
to yield its honey to the bee.

For to the bee a flower is a fountain of
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of
And to both, bee and flower, the giving
and the receiving of pleasure is a need and
an ecstasy.

People of Orphalese, be in your pleas-
ures like the flowers and the bees.

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AND a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty.

And he answered:

Where shall you seek beauty, and how
shall you find her unless she herself be your
way and your guide?

And how shall you speak of her except
she be the weaver of your speech?

The aggrieved and the injured say,
"Beauty is kind and gentle.
Like a young mother half-shy of her
own glory she walks among us."

And the passionate say, "Nay, beauty is
a thing of might and dread.
Like the tempest she shakes the earth
beneath us and the sky above us."

The tired and the weary say, "beauty is
of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
Her voice yields to our silences like a faint
light that quivers in fear of the shadow."

But the restless say, "We have heard her
shouting among the mountains,
And with her cries came the sound of
hoofs, and the beating of wings and the
roaring of lions."

At night the watchmen of the city say,
"Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the

And at noontide the toilers and the way-
farers say, "we have seen her leaning over
the earth from the windows of the sunset."

In winter say the snow-bound, "She shall
come with the spring leaping upon the hills."

And in the summer heat the reapers say,
"We have seen her dancing with the autumn
leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her

All these things have you said of beauty,
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of
needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.

It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty
hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul en-

It is not the image you would see nor
the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you
close your eyes and a song you hear though
you shut your ears.

It is not the sap within the furrowed bark,
nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden for ever in bloom and
a flock of angels for ever in flight.

People of Orphalese, beauty is life when
life unveils her holy face.

But you are life and you are the veil.

Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.

But you are eternity and you are the mirror.

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AND an old priest said, Speak to us of Religion.

Speak to us of Religion.

And he said:

Have I spoken this day of aught else?

Is not religion all deeds and all reflection,
And that which is neither deed nor re-
flection, but a wonder and a surprise ever
springing in the soul, even while the hands
hew the stone or tend the loom?

Who can separate his faith from his ac-
tions, or his belief from his occupations?

Who can spread his hours before him,
saying, "This for God and this for myself;
This for my soul, and this other for my

All your hours are wings that beat through
space from self to self.

He who wears his morality but as his best
garment were better naked.

The wind and the sun will tear no holes
in his skin.

And he who defines his conduct by ethics
imprisons his song-bird in a cage.

The freest song comes not through bars
and wires.

And he to whom worshiping is a win-
dow, to open but also to shut, has not yet
visited the house of his soul whose windows
are from dawn to dawn.

Your daily life is your temple and your

Whenever you enter into it take with
you your all.

Take the plough and the forge and the
mallet and the lute,
The things you have fashioned in neces-
sity or for delight.

For in revery you cannot rise above your
achievements nor fall lower than your fail-

And take with you all men:

For in adoration you cannot fly higher
than their hopes nor humble yourself lower
than their despair.

And if you would know God be not
therefore a solver of riddles.

Rather look about you and you shall see
Him playing with your children.

And look into space; you shall see Him
walking in the cloud, outstretching His arms
in the lightning and descending in rain.

You shall see Him smiling in flowers,
then rising and waving His hands in trees.

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THEN Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.

And he said:

You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek
it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are
blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery
of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of
death, open your heart wide unto the body
of life.

For life and death are one, even as the
river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires
lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow
your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden
the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling
of the shepherd when he stands before the
king whose hand is to be laid upon him in

Is the sheered not joyful beneath his
trembling, that he shall wear the mark of
the king?

Yet is he not more mindful of his trem-

For what is it to die but to stand naked
in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is to cease breathing, but to
free the breath from its restless tides, that
it may rise and expand and seek God unen-

Only when you drink form the river of
silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the moun-
tain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your
limbs, then shall you truly dance.

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Epilogue: The Farewell

AND now it was evening.

And Almitra the seeress said, Blessed be
this day and this place and your spirit that
has spoken.

And he answered, Was it I who spoke?
Was I not also a listener?

Then he descended the steps of the Tem-
ple and all the people followed him. And he
reached his ship and stood upon the deck.

And facing the people again, he raised his
voice and said:

People of Orphalese, the wind bids me
leave you.

Less hasty am I than the wind, yet I
must go.

We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier
way, begin no day where we have ended
another day; and no sunrise finds us where
sunset left us.

Even while the earth sleeps we travel.

We are the seeds of the tenacious plant,
and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of
heart that we are given to the wind and are

Brief were my days among you, and
briefer still the words I have spoken.

But should my voice fade in your ears,
and my love vanish in your memory, then
I will come again,
And with a richer heart and lips more
yielding to the spirit will I speak.

Yea, I shall return with the tide,
And though death may hide me, and the
greater silence enfold me, yet again will I
seek your understanding.

And not in vain will I seek.

If aught I have said is truth, that truth
shall reveal itself in a clearer voice, and in
words more kin to your thoughts.

I go with the wind, people of Orphalese,
but not down into emptiness;

And if this day is not a fulfillment of
your needs and my love, then let it be a
promise till another day.

Man's needs change, but not his love, nor
his desire that his love should satisfy his

Know therefore, that from the greater si-
lence I shall return.

The mist that drifts away at dawn, leaving
but dew in the fields, shall rise and gather
into a cloud and then fall down in rain.

And not unlike the mist have I been.

In the stillness of the night I have walked
in your streets, and my spirit has entered
your houses,
And your heart-beats were in my heart,
and your breath was upon my face, and I
knew you all.

Ay, I knew your joy and your pain, and
in your sleep your dreams were my dreams.

And oftentimes I was among you a lake
among the mountains.

I mirrored the summits in you and the
bending slopes, and even the passing flocks
of your thoughts and your desires.

And to my silence came the laughter of
your children in streams, and the longing of
your youths in rivers.

And when they reached my depth the
streams and the rivers ceased not yet to

But sweeter still than laughter and greater
than longing came to me.

It was boundless in you;

The vast man in whom you are all but
cells and sinews;

He in whose chant all your singing is but
a soundless throbbing.

It is in the vast man that you are vast,
And in beholding him that I beheld you
and loved you.

For what distances can love reach that are
not in that vast sphere?

What visions, what expectations and what
presumptions can outsoar that flight?

Like a giant oak tree covered with apple
blossoms is the vast man in you.

His might binds you to the earth, his
fragrance lifts you into space, and in his
durability you are deathless.

You have been told that, even like a chain,
you are as weak as your weakest link.

This is but half the truth. You are also
as strong as your strongest link.

To measure you by your smallest deed is
to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty
of its foam.

To judge you by your failures is to cast
blame upon the seasons for their inconsistency.

Ay, you are like an ocean,
And though heavy-grounded ships await
the tide upon your shores, yet, even like an
ocean, you cannot hasten your tides.

And like the seasons you are also,
And though in your winter you deny
your spring,
Yet spring, reposing within you, smiles in
her drowsiness and is not offended.

Think not I say these things in order
that you may say the one to the other, "He
praised us well. He saw but the good in

I only speak to you in words of that
which you yourselves know in thought.

And what is word knowledge but a
shadow of wordless knowledge?

Your thoughts and my words are waves
from a sealed memory that keeps records of
our yesterdays,
And of the ancient days when the earth
knew not us nor herself,
And of nights when earth was upwrought
with confusion.

Wise men have come to you to give you
of their wisdom. I came to take of your

And behold I have found that which is
greater than wisdom.

It is a flame spirit in you ever gathering
more of itself,
While you, heedless of its expansion, be-
wail the withering of your days.

It is life in quest of life in bodies that fear
the grave.

There are no graves here.

These mountains and plains are a cradle
and a stepping-stone.

Whenever you pass by the field where you
have laid your ancestors look well there-
upon, and you shall see yourselves and your
children dancing hand in hand.

Verily you often make merry without

Others have come to you to whom for
golden promises made unto your faith you
have given but riches and power and glory.

Less than a promise have I given, and yet
more generous have you been to me.

You have given me deeper thirsting after life.

Surely there is no greater gift to a man
than that which turns all his aims into
parching lips and all life into a fountain.

And in this lies my honour and my re-
ward, ---
That whenever I come to the fountain to
drink I find the living water itself thirsty;
And it drinks me while I drink it.

Some of you have deemed me proud and
over-shy to receive gifts.

To proud indeed am I to receive wages,
but not gifts.

And though I have eaten berries among
the hill when you would have had me sit
at your board,
And slept in the portico of the temple
where you would gladly have sheltered
Yet was it not your loving mindfulness
of my days and my nights that made food
sweet to my mouth and girdled my sleep
with visions?

For this I bless you most:

You give much and know not that you
give at all.

Verily the kindness that gazes upon it-
self in a mirror turns to stone,
And a good deed that calls itself by ten-
der names becomes the parent to a curse.

And some of you have called me aloof,
and drunk with my own aloneness,
And you have said, "He holds council with
the trees of the forest, but not with men.
He sits alone on hill-tops and looks down
upon our city."

True it is that I have climbed the hills
and walked in remote places.

How could I have seen you save from a
great height or a great distance?

How can one be indeed near unless he
be far?

And others among you called unto me,
not in words, and they said,

"Stranger, stranger, lover of unreachable
heights, why dwell you among the summits
where eagles build their nests?

Why seek you the unattainable?

What storms would you trap in your net,
And what vaporous birds do you hunt in
the sky?

Come and be one of us.

Descend and appease your hunger with
our bread and quench your thirst with our

In the solitude of their souls they said
these things;

But were their solitude deeper they would
have known that I sought but the secret of
your joy and your pain,
And I hunted only your larger selves
that walk the sky.

But the hunter was also the hunted;

For many of my arrows left my bow only
to seek my own breast.

And the flier was also the creeper;

For when my wings were spread in the sun
their shadow upon the earth was a turtle.

And I the believer was also the doubter;

For often have I put my finger in my own
wound that I might have the greater belief in
you and the greater knowledge of you.

And it is with this belief and this knowl-
edge that I say,

You are not enclosed within your bodies,
nor confined to houses or fields.

That which is you dwells above the
mountain and roves with the wind.

It is not a thing that crawls into the sun
for warmth or digs holes into darkness for
But a thing free, a spirit that envelops the
earth and moves in the ether.

If this be vague words, then seek not to
clear them.

Vague and nebulous is the beginning of
all things, but not their end,
And I fain would have you remember me
as a beginning.

Life, and all that lives, is conceived in the
mist and not in the crystal.

And who knows but a crystal is mist in

This would I have you remember in re-
membering me:

That which seems most feeble and be-
wildered in you is the strongest and most

Is it not your breath that has erected and
hardened the structure of your bones?

And is it not a dream which none of you
remember having dreamt that building your
city and fashioned all there is in it?

Could you but see the tides of that breath
you would cease to see all else,
And if you could hear the whispering of
the dream you would hear no other sound.

But you do not see, nor do you hear, and
it is well.

The veil that clouds your eyes shall be
lifted by the hands that wove it,
And the clay that fills your ears shall be
pierced by those fingers that kneaded it.

And you shall see

And you shall hear.

Yet you shall not deplore having known
blindness, nor regret having been deaf.

For in that day you shall know the hidden
purposes in all things,
And you shall bless darkness as you
would bless light.

After saying these things he looked about
him, and he saw the pilot of his ship stand-
ing by the helm and gazing now at the full
sails and now at the distance.

And he said:

Patient, over-patient, is the captain of my

The wind blows, and restless are the sails;

Even the rudder begs direction;

Yet quietly my captain awaits my silence.

And these my mariners, who have heard
the choir of the greater sea, they too have
heard me patiently.

Now they shall wait no longer.

I am ready.

The stream has reached the sea, and
once more the great mother holds her son
against her breast.

Fare you well, people of Orphalese.

This day has ended.

It is closing upon us even as the water
-lily upon its own tomorrow.

What was given us here we shall keep,
And if it suffices not, then again must we
come together and together stretch our hands
unto the giver.

Forget not that I shall come back to you.

A little while, and my longing shall gather
dust and foam for another body.

A little while, a moment of rest upon the
wind, and another woman shall bear me.

Farewell to you and the youth I have
spent with you.

It was but yesterday we met in a dream.

You have sung to me in my aloneness,
and I of your longings have built a tower
in the sky.

But now our sleep has fled and our dream
is over, and it is no longer dawn.

The noontide is upon us and our half
waking has turned to fuller day, and we
must part.

If in the twilight of memory we should
meet once more, we shall speak again to-
gether and you shall sing to me a deeper

And if our hands should meet in another
dream, we shall build another tower in the

So saying he made a signal to the seamen,
and straightaway they weighed anchor and
cast the ship loose from its moorings, and
they moved eastward.

And a cry came from the people as from
a single heart, and it rose the dusk and
was carried out over the sea like a great

Only Almitra was silent, gazing after the
ship until it had vanished into the mist.

And when all the people were dispersed
she still stood alone upon the sea-wall, re-
membering in her heart his saying,

"A little while, a moment of rest upon the
wind, and another woman shall bear me."

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