Gibran’s ‘River’ Courses Our Lives

The River Cannot Go Back: A Parable

“The River Cannot Go Back,”
declared once the mystic and poet,
Lebanese-American Kahlil Gibran.
author of “The Prophet,” a dreamer.

By observing the movements of rivers,
this mystic and poet, this dreamer,
was observing something remarkable:
The constancy of change.

That, in the course of time,
all is in a state of flux.
 All in a state of transition.
Thus change itself is ‘constant.’

On a much larger plane
of human existence;
on the existential plane of life,
we too must come to realize this:

Neither time, space, nor human thought is fixed.
All is transient, all ever moving.
All ever being transformed.
All seeking to know its ‘Self.’

The ‘Self’ that is ‘The All.’
The ‘Self’ that is indivisible.
The ‘Self that flows like a river.
The indivisible ‘Self’ that is ONE.

No one, not anything, can ever ‘go back.’
For to go back is not possible.
To go back in our existence;
that is most certainly impossible.

Just as the river on its journey,
is deemed by nature to traverse its course;
 and, by nature, is charged to ‘take risks,’
so too, must every living species, take risk.

The river, while winding its course,
traversing rocks and crevices,
charged by nature’s disposition,
must take the ‘risk’ of entering the ocean.

The river must discover and must experience
vast new unknown realities.
The river must encounter and confront fears.
And the river must overcome those fears.

The river must not be fearful.
She must not be fearful of her extinction.
In the wake of uncertainty,
the river must display confidence.

In the wake of uncertainty,
the river must display faith and trust.
The river must remain obedient
to the profundity of her new life.

The lowly mountain river
will with certainty have new life.
She will now have abundant life
in the vastness as an ocean.

So likewise must we too,
like the babbling brook or river,
traverse rocks and crevices;
all the hindrances in our lives.

So like the forest river,
overcoming seasonal obstacles,
so too must we not look back.
Instead, we must choose to march forward.

Like the river we cannot go back.
Instead, we must march forward.
Like the river we must trudge onwards.
We must move towards ‘the ocean.’

We must be intrepid travelers.
On pathways not yet taken,
we must pave our way.
For, like the river, we cannot go back.

‘The Road Not Taken,’
is the road we are asked to take.
It may not be wide and spacious,
but it is made for our correction.

The river cannot go back.
Indeed, nothing can ever go back.
So thus we must move forward
to greater expectations.

On this forward journey
of the straight and narrow pathway,
we too like the river
will encounter obstacles.

These are more like guidelines,
instructing us with knowledge,
that life is full of challenges
to strengthen us with vigor.

The vigor that is needed
to embrace the many changes;
all needed to support us
on the journey that we call ‘Life.’

The river cannot go back.
Neither can we go back.
Neither should we seek to go back.
Like the river we must go forward.

This then is our reality:
Gibran’s ‘River’ courses our lives.
On our winding journey of life,
we are like that river.

Like Gibran’s mythical ‘River,’
we must course our way.
We must do so on a winding path.
But we must choose to trudge forward.

Though we may do so with trepidation,
that is the path we are asked to take.
We must overcome obstacles.
We must overcome our fears.

The river cannot go back.
Neither can we go back.
Our task is to trudge forward;
to the destiny that awaits us.

After all is said and done,
let us reflect on this message:
All of us are like rivers.
We are all ‘Living Waters.’

Indwelling deep within us
are treasures to be discovered.
So like Gibran’s ‘River,’
we must strive to know ‘The Self.’

The Self that lies buried
like a cavernous river.
The Self in numinous cavern.
The Self that yet bears light.

Our task is as explorers,
to explore the vast universe
of the darkened inward journey
that leads to inward light.

This is the inward journey
that leads us to The Self.
The Self that lies buried.
The Self that offers Light.

Our task then as travelers,
is to come to know ourselves.
For there is no greater journey,
than to be at peace with Self.

The river cannot go back.
The river must go forward.
We too cannot go back.
We too must go forward.

Just as the river cannot go back,
and must merge to join the sea,
so too must we bravely forge ahead;
towards the hidden depths of Self.

Gibran’s ‘River’ courses our lives.
We are like that mountain river.
Ever moving, trudging forwards,
fearlessly, to embrace the Self.

Dear reader, “To thine own Self be true.”

About this poem

In the first stanza of his two-stanza poem, “The River Cannot Go Back,” Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), Lebanese-American writer, dreamer, and poet, expressed the following sentiments: “It is said before entering the sea a river trembles with fear. She looks back at the path she has traveled, from the peaks of the mountains, the long winding road crossing forests and villages. And in front of her, she sees an ocean so vast, that to enter there seems nothing more than to disappear forever. ” The first three lines of the second stanza reads pointedly ominously, appealing to the inquisitive reader’s keen attention: “But there is no other way. The river cannot go back. Nobody can go back.” This poem, “Gibran’s ‘River’ Courses Our Lives,” links the imagery of Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran’s poem, “The River Cannot Go Back,” with the course that all human lives are destined to take as intrepid travelers seeking to discover and to know the ‘Self,’ the Divine All. 

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Written on September 09, 2023

Submitted by karlcfolkes on September 09, 2023

Modified by karlcfolkes on September 10, 2023

5:02 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme a Bxxc dcax xxef xghx xxxi xace baga jkxx klee gxmm aeJg Jxfh chhe nclo cpbq bqre desb etue Bbqx jscp xvlc xxuh BBbq jOhc csxq etpm BBqu evdd uqci Wcxx dxjx jiWx dxji Bqbq bjxi Ocri xn
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,775
Words 1,006
Stanzas 38
Stanza Lengths 1, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 2

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1995 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s “Dear Mili” Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

All Karl Constantine FOLKES poems | Karl Constantine FOLKES Books

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