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On Work

Kahlil Gibran 1883 (Bsharri, Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate) – 1931 ( New York City)

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 fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when the 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 darkness, 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 knowledge,
  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 house.
  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 overwakefulness 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 distils a poison in the wine.
  And if you sing though 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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Submitted by halel on July 13, 2020

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Kahlil Gibran

Gibran Khalil Gibran (Arabic: جبران خليل جبران‎, ALA-LC: Jubrān Khalīl Jubrān, pronounced [ʒʊˈbraːn xaˈliːl ʒʊˈbraːn], or Jibrān Khalīl Jibrān, pronounced [ʒɪˈbraːn xaˈliːl ʒɪˈbraːn]; January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931), usually referred to in English as Kahlil Gibran (pronounced kah-LEEL ji-BRAHN), was a Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist, also considered a philosopher although he himself rejected the title. He is best known as the author of The Prophet, which was first published in the United States in 1923 and has since become one of the best-selling books of all time, having been translated into more than 100 languages. Born in a village of the Ottoman-ruled Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate to a Maronite family, the young Gibran immigrated with his mother and siblings to the United States in 1895. As his mother worked as a seamstress, he was enrolled at a school in Boston, where his creative abilities were quickly noticed by a teacher who presented him to photographer and publisher F. Holland Day. Gibran was sent back to his native land by his family at the age of fifteen to enroll at the Collège de la Sagesse in Beirut. Returning to Boston upon his youngest sister's death in 1902, he lost his older half-brother and his mother the following year, seemingly relying afterwards on his remaining sister's income from her work at a dressmaker's shop for some time. In 1904, Gibran's drawings were displayed for the first time at Day's studio in Boston, and his first book in Arabic was published in 1905 in New York City. With the financial help of a newly met benefactress, Mary Haskell, Gibran studied art in Paris from 1908 to 1910. While there, he came in contact with Syrian political thinkers promoting rebellion in the Ottoman Empire after the Young Turk Revolution; some of Gibran's writings, voicing the same ideas as well as anti-clericalism, would eventually be banned by the Ottoman authorities. In 1911, Gibran settled in New York, where his first book in English, The Madman, would be published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1918, with writing of The Prophet or The Earth Gods also underway. His visual artwork was shown at Montross Gallery in 1914, and at the galleries of M. Knoedler & Co. in 1917. He had also been corresponding remarkably with May Ziadeh since 1912. In 1920, Gibran re-founded the Pen League with fellow Mahjari poets. By the time of his death at the age of 48 from cirrhosis and incipient tuberculosis in one lung, he had achieved literary fame on "both sides of the Atlantic Ocean," and The Prophet had already been translated into German and French. His body was transferred to his birth village of Bsharri (in present-day Lebanon), to which he had bequeathed all future royalties on his books, and where a museum dedicated to his works now stands. As worded by Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins, Gibran's life has been described as one "often caught between Nietzschean rebellion, Blakean pantheism and Sufi mysticism." Gibran discussed different themes in his writings, and explored diverse literary forms. Salma Khadra Jayyusi has called him "the single most important influence on Arabic poetry and literature during the first half of [the twentieth] century," and he is still celebrated as a literary hero in Lebanon. At the same time, "most of Gibran's paintings expressed his personal vision, incorporating spiritual and mythological symbolism," with art critic Alice Raphael recognizing in the painter a classicist, whose work owed "more to the findings of Da Vinci than it [did] to any modern insurgent." His "prodigious body of work" has been described as "an artistic legacy to people of all nations."  more…

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