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Title:      The Garden Of The Prophet
Author:     Kahlil Gibran
eBook No.:  0500581.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
Character set encoding:     Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit
Date first posted:          June 2005
Date most recently updated: June 2005

This eBook was produced by: Stuart kidd

Production notes: Original file Courtesy of Kahlil Gibran Online -

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Title:      The Garden Of The Prophet
Author:     Kahlil Gibran

Almustafa, the chosen and the beloved, who was a noon unto his own 
day, returned to the isle of his birth in the month of Tichreen, which 
is the month of remembrance. 

And as his ship approached the harbour, he stood upon its prow, and 
his mariners were about him. And there was a homecoming in his heart. 

And he spoke, and the sea was in his voice, and he said: "Behold, the 
isle of our birth. Even here the earth heaved us, a song and a riddle; 
a song unto the sky, a riddle unto the earth; and what is there 
between earth and sky that shall carry the song and solve the riddle 
save our own passion? 

"The sea yields us once more to these shores. We are but another wave 
of her waves. She sends us forth to sound her speech, but how shall we 
do so unless we break the symmetry of our heart on rock and sand? 

"For this is the law of mariners and the sea: If you would freedom, 
you must needs turn to mist. The formless is for ever seeking form, 
even as the countless nebulae would become suns and moons; and we who 
have sought much and return now to this isle, rigid moulds, we must 
become mist once more and learn of the beginning. And what is there 
that shall live and rise unto the heights except it be broken unto 
passion and freedom? 

"For ever shall we be in quest of the shores, that we may sing and be 
heard. But what of the wave that breaks where no ear shall hear? It is 
the unheard in us that nurses our deeper sorrow. Yet it is also the 
unheard which carves our soul to form and fashion our destiny." 

Then one of his mariners came forth and said: "Master, you have 
captained our longing for this harbour, and behold, we have come. Yet 
you speak of sorrow, and of hearts that shall be broken." 

And he answered him and said: "Did I not speak of freedom, and of the 
mist which is our greater freedom? Yet it is in pain I make pilgrimage 
to the isle where I was born, even like unto a ghost of one slain come 
to kneel before those who have slain him." 

And another mariner spoke and said: "Behold, the multitudes on the 
sea-wall. In their silence they have foretold even the day and the 
hour of your coming, and they have gathered from their fields and 
vineyards in their loving need, to await you." 

And Almustafa looked afar upon the multitudes, and his heart was 
mindful of their yearning, and he was silent. 

Then a cry came from the people, and it was a cry of remembrance and 
of entreaty. 

And he looked upon his mariners and said: "And what have I brought 
them? A hunter was I, in a distant land. With aim and might I have 
spent the golden arrows they gave me, but I have brought down no game. 
I followed not the arrows. Mayhap they are spreading now in the sun 
with the pinions of wounded eagles that would not fall to the earth. 
And mayhap the arrow-heads have fallen into the hands of those who had 
need of them for bread and wine. 

"I know not where they have spent their flight, but this I know: they 
have made their curve in the sky. 

"Even so, love's hand is still upon me, and you, my mariners, still 
sail my vision, and I shall not be dumb. I shall cry out when the hand 
of the seasons is upon my throat, and I shall sing my words when my 
lips are burned with flames." 

And they were troubled in their hearts because he spoke of these 
things. And one said: "Master, teach us all, and mayhap because your 
blood flows in our veins, and our breath is of your fragrance, we 
shall understand." 

The he answered them, and the wind was in his voice, and he said: 
"Brought you me to the isle of my birth to be a teacher? Not yet have 
I been caged by wisdom. Too young am I and too verdant to speak of 
aught but self, which is for ever the deep calling upon the deep. 

"Let him who would have wisdom seek it in the buttercup or in a pinch 
of red clay. I am still the singer. Still I shall sing the earth, and 
I shall sing your lost dreaming that walks the day between sleep and 
sleep. But I shall gaze upon the sea." 

And now the ship entered the harbour and reached the sea-wall, and he 
came thus to the isle of his birth and stood once more amongst his own 
people. And a great cry arose from their hearts so that the loneliness 
of his home-coming was shaken within him. 

And they were silent awaiting his word, but he answered them not, for 
the sadness of memory was upon him, and he said in his heart: "Have I 
said that I shall sing? Nay, I can but open my lips that the voice of 
life may come forth and go out to the wind for joy and support." 

Then Karima, she who had played with him, a child, in the Garden of 
his mother, spoke and said: "Twelve years have you hidden your face 
from us, and for twelve years have we hungered and thirsted for your 

And he looked upon her with exceeding tenderness, for it was she who 
had closed the eyes of his mother when the white wings of death had 
gathered her. 

And he answered and said: "Twelve years? Said you twelve years, 
Karima? I measured not my longing with the starry rod, nor did I sound 
the depth thereof. For love when love is homesick exhausts time's 
measurements and time's soundings. 

"There are moments that hold aeons of separation. Yet parting is 
naught but an exhaustion of the mind. Perhaps we have not parted." 

And Almustafa looked upon the people, and he saw them all, the youth 
and the aged, the stalwart and the puny, those who were ruddy with the 
touch of wind and sun, and those who were of pallid countenance; and 
upon their face a light of longing and of questioning.

And one spoke and said: "Master, life has dealt bitterly with our 
hopes and our desires. Our hearts are troubled, and we do not 
understand. I pray you, comfort us, and open to us the meanings of our 

And his heart was moved with compassion, and he said: "Life is older 
than all things living; even as beauty was winged ere the beautiful 
was born on earth, and even as truth was truth ere it was uttered. 

"Life sings in our silences, and dreams in our slumber. Even when we 
are beaten and low, Life is enthroned and high. And when we weep, Life 
smiles upon the day, and is free even when we drag our chains. 

"Oftentimes we call Life bitter names, but only when we ourselves are 
bitter and dark. And we deem her empty and unprofitable, but only when 
the soul goes wandering in desolate places, and the heart is drunken 
with over-mindfulness of self. 

"Life is deep and high and distant; and though only your vast vision 
can reach even her feet, yet she is near; and though only the breath 
of your breath reaches her heart, the shadow of your shadow crosses 
her face, and the echo of your faintest cry becomes a spring and an 
autumn in her breast. 

"And Life is veiled and hidden, even as your greater self is hidden 
and veiled. Yet when Life speaks, all the winds become words; and when 
she speaks again, the smiles upon your lips and the tears in your eyes 
turn also into words. When she sings, the deaf hear and are held; and 
when she comes walking, the sightless behold her and are amazed and 
follow her in wonder and astonishment." 

And he ceased from speaking, and a vast silence enfolded the people, 
and in the silence there was an unheard song, and they were comforted 
of their loneliness and their aching. 


And he left them straightway and followed the path which led to his 
Garden, which was the Garden of his mother and his father, wherein 
they lay asleep, they and their forefathers. 

And there were those who would have followed after him, seeing that it 
was a home-coming, and he was alone, for there was not one left of all 
his kin to spread the feast of welcome, after the manner of his 

But the captain of his ship counselled them saying: "Suffer him to go 
upon his way. For his bread is the bread of aloneness, and in his cup 
is the wine of remembrance, which he would drink alone." 

And his mariners held their steps, for they knew it was even as the 
captain of the ship had told them. And all those who gathered upon the 
sea-wall restrained the feet of their desire. 

Only Karima went after him, a little way, yearning over his aloneness 
and his memories. And she spoke not, but turned and went unto her own 
house, and in the garden under the almond-tree she wept, yet she knew 
not wherefore. 


And Almustafa came and found the Garden of his mother and his father, 
and he entered in, and closed the gate that no man might come after 

And for forty days and forty nights he dwelt alone in that house and 
that Garden, and none came, not even unto the gate, for it was closed, 
and all the people knew that he would be alone. 

And when the forty days and nights were ended, Almustafa opened the 
gate that they might come in. 

And there came nine men to be with him in the Garden; three mariners 
from his own ship; three who had been his comrades in play when they 
were but children together. And these were his disciples. 

And on a morning his disciples sat around him, and there were 
distances and remembrances in his eyes. And that disciple who was 
called Hafiz said unto him: "Master, tell us of the city of Orphalese, 
and of that land wherein you tarried those twelve years." 

And Almustafa was silent, and he looked away towards the hills and 
toward the vast ether, and there was a battle in his silence. 

Then he said: "My friends and my road-fellows, pity the nation that is 
full of beliefs and empty of religion. 

"Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it 
does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own 

"Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the 
glittering conqueror bountiful. 

"Pity the nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in 
its awakening. 

"Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a 
funeral, boasts not except when its neck is laid between the sword and 
the block. 

"Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a 
juggle, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking. 

"Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpetings, and 
farewells him with hootings, only to welcome another with trumpetings 

"Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men 
are yet in the cradle. 

"Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself 
a nation." 


And one said: "Speak to us of that which is moving in your own heart 
even now." 

And he looked upon that one, and there was in his voice a sound like a 
star singing, and he said: "In your waking dream, when you are hushed 
and listening to your deeper self, your thoughts, like snow- flakes, 
fall and flutter and garment all the sounds of your spaces with white 

"And what are waking dreams but clouds that bud and blossom on the 
sky-tree of your heart? And what are your thoughts but the petals 
which the winds of your heart scatter upon the hills and its fields? 

"And even as you wait for peace until the formless within you takes 
form, so shall the cloud gather and drift until the Blessed Fingers 
shape its grey desire to little crystal suns and moons and stars." 

Then Sarkis, he who was the half-doubter, spoke and said: "But spring 
shall come, and all the snows of our dreams and our thoughts shall 
melt and be no more." 

And he answered saying: "When Spring comes to seek His beloved amongst 
the slumbering groves and vineyards, the snows shall indeed melt and 
shall run in streams to seek the river in the valley, to be the 
cup-bearer to the myrtle-trees and laurel. 

"So shall the snow of your heart melt when your Spring is come, and 
thus shall your secret run in streams to seek the river of life in the 
valley. And the river shall enfold your secret and carry it to the 
great sea. 

"All things shall melt and turn into songs when Spring comes. Even the 
stars, the vast snow-flakes that fall slowly upon the larger fields, 
shall melt into singing streams. When the sun of His face shall rise 
above the wider horizon, then what frozen symmetry would not turn into 
liquid melody? And who among you would not be the cup-bearer to the 
myrtle and the laurel? 

"It was but yesterday that you were moving with the moving sea, and 
you were shoreless and without a self. Then the wind, the breath of 
Life, wove you, a veil of light on her face; then her hand gathered 
you and gave you form, and with a head held high you sought the 
heights. But the sea followed after you, and her song is still with 
you. And though you have forgotten your parentage, she will for ever 
assert her motherhood, and for ever will she call you unto her. 

"In your wanderings among the mountains and the desert you will always 
remember the depth of her cool heart. And though oftentimes you will 
not know for what you long, it is indeed for her vast and rhythmic 

"And how else can it be? In grove and in bower when the rain dances in 
leaves upon the hill, when snow falls, a blessing and a covenant; in 
the valley when you lead your flocks to the river; in your fields 
where brooks, like silver streams. join together the green garment; in 
your gardens when the early dews mirror the heavens; in your meadows 
when the mist of evening half veils your way; in all these the sea is 
with you, a witness to your heritage, and a claim upon your love. 

"It is the snow-flake in you running down to the sea." 


And on a morning as they walked in the Garden, there appeared before 
the gate a woman, and it was Karima, she whom Almustafa had loved even 
as a sister in his boyhood. And she stood without, asking nothing, nor 
knocking with her hand upon the gate, but only gazing with longing and 
sadness into the Garden. 

And Almustafa saw the desire upon her eyelids, and with swift steps he 
came to the wall and the gate and opened unto her, and she came in and 
was made welcome. 

And she spoke and said: "Wherefore have you withdrawn yourself from us 
altogether, that we may not live in the light of your countenance? For 
behold, these many years have we loved you and waited with longing for 
your safe return. And now the people cry for you and would have speech 
with you; and I am their messenger come to beseech you that you will 
show yourself to the people, and speak to them out of your wisdom, and 
comfort the broken of heart and instruct our foolishness." 

And looking upon her, he said: "Call me not wise unless you call all 
men wise. A young fruit am I, still clinging to the branch, and it was 
only yesterday that I was but a blossom. 

"And call none among you foolish, for in truth we are neither wise nor 
foolish. We are green leaves upon the tree of life, and life itself is 
beyond wisdom, and surely beyond foolishness. 

"And have I indeed withdrawn myself from you? Know you not that there 
is no distance save that which the soul does not span in fancy? And 
when the soul shall span that distance, it becomes a rhythm in the 

"The space that lies between you and your near neighbour unbefriended 
is indeed greater than that which lies between you and your beloved 
who dwells beyond seven lands and seven seas. 

"For in remembrance there are no distances; and only in oblivion is 
there a gulf that neither your voice nor your eye can abridge. 

"Between the shores of the oceans and the summit of the highest 
mountain there is a secret road which you must needs travel ere you 
become one with the sons of earth. 

"And between your knowledge and your understanding there is a secret 
path which you must needs discover ere you become one with man, and 
therefore one with yourself. 

"Between your right hand that gives and your left hand that receives 
there is a great space. Only by deeming them both giving and receiving 
can you bring them into spacelessness, for it is only in knowing that 
you have naught to give and naught to receive that you can overcome 

"Verily the vastest distance is that which lies between your 
sleep-vision and your wakefulness; and between that which is but a 
deed and that which is a desire. 

"And there is still another road which you must needs travel ere you 
become one with Life. But of that road I shall not speak now, seeing 
that you are weary already of travelling." 


Then he went forth with the woman, he and the nine, even unto the 
market-place, and he spoke to the people, his friends and his 
neighbours, and there was joy in their hearts and upon their eyelids. 

And he said: "You grow in sleep, and live your fuller life in you 
dreaming. For all your days are spent in thanksgiving for that which 
you have received in the stillness of the night. 

"Oftentimes you think and speak of night as the season of rest, yet in 
truth night is the season of seeking and finding. 

"The day gives unto you the power of knowledge and teaches your 
fingers to become versed in the art of receiving; but it is night that 
leads you to the treasure-house of Life. 

"The sun teaches to all things that grow their longing for the light. 
But it is night that raises them to the stars. 

"It is indeed the stillness of the night that weaves a wedding-veil 
over the trees in the forest, and the flowers in the garden, and then 
spreads the lavish feast and makes ready the nuptial chamber; and in 
that holy silence tomorrow is conceived in the womb of Time. 

'Thus it is with you, and thus, in seeking, you find meat and 
fulfilment. And though at dawn your awakening erases the memory, the 
board of dreams is for ever spread, and the nuptial chamber waiting." 

And he was silent for a space, and they also, awaiting his word. Then 
he spoke again, saying: "You are spirits though you move in bodies; 
and like oil that burns in the dark, you are flames though held in 

"If you were naught save bodies, then my standing before you and 
speaking unto you would be but emptiness, even as the dead calling 
unto the dead. But this is not so. All that is deathless in you is 
free unto the day and the night and cannot be housed nor fettered, for 
this is the will of the Most High. You are His breath even as the wind 
that shall be neither caught nor caged. And I also am the breath of 
His breath." 

And he went from their midst walking swiftly and entered again into 
the Garden. 

And Sarkis, he who was the half-doubter, spoke and said: "And what of 
ugliness, Master? You speak never of ugliness." 

And Almustafa answered him, and there was a whip in his words, and he 
said: "My friend, what man shall call you inhospitable if he shall 
pass by your house, yet would not knock at your door? 

"And who shall deem you deaf and unmindful if he shall speak to you in 
a strange tongue of which you understand nothing? 

"Is it not that which you have never striven to reach, into whose 
heart you have never desired to enter, that you deem ugliness? 

"If ugliness is aught, indeed, it is but the scales upon our eyes, and 
the wax filling our ears. 

"Call nothing ugly, my friend, save the fear of a soul in the presence 
of its own memories." 


And upon a day as they sat in the long shadows of the white poplars, 
one spoke saying: "Master, I am afraid of time. It passes over us and 
robs us of our youth, and what does it give in return?" 

And he answered and said: "Take up now a handful of good earth. Do you 
find in it a seed, and perhaps a worm? If your hand were spacious and 
enduring enough, the seed might become a forest, and the worm a flock 
of angels. And forget not that the years which turn seeds to forests, 
and worms to angels, belong to this Now, all of the years, this very 

"And what are the seasons of the years save your own thoughts 
changing? Spring is an awakening in your breast, and summer but a 
recognition of your own fruitfulness. Is not autumn the ancient in you 
singing a lullaby to that which is still a child in your being? And 
what, I ask you, is winter save sleep big with the dreams of all the 
other seasons." 

And the Mannus, the inquisitive disciple, looked about him and he saw 
plants in flower cleaving unto the sycamore-tree. And he said: "Behold 
the parasites, Master. What say you of them? They are thieves with 
weary eyelids who steal the light from the steadfast children of the 
sun, and make fair of the sap that runneth into their branches and 
their leaves." 

And he answered him saying: "My friend, we are all parasites. We who 
labour to turn the sod into pulsing life are not above those who 
receive life directly from the sod without knowing the sod. 

"Shall a mother say to her child: 'I give you back to the forest, 
which is your greater mother, for you weary me, heart and hand'? 

"Or shall the singer rebuke his own song, saying: 'Return now to the 
cave of echoes from whence you came, for your voice consumes my 

"And shall the shepherd say to his yearling: 'I have no pasture 
whereunto I may lead you; therefore be cut off and become a sacrifice 
for this cause'? 

"Nay, my friend, all these things are answered even before they are 
asked, and, like your dreams, are fulfilled ere you sleep. 

"We live upon one another according to the law, ancient and timeless. 
Let us live thus in loving-kindness. We seek one another in our 
aloneness, and we walk the road when we have no hearth to sit beside. 

"My friends and my brothers, the wider road is your fellow-man. 

"These plants that live upon the tree draw milk of the earth in the 
sweet stillness of night, and the earth in her tranquil dreaming sucks 
at the breast of the sun. 

"And the sun, even as you and I and all there is, sits in equal honour 
at the banquet of the Prince whose door is always open and whose board 
is always spread. 

"Mannus, my friend, all there is lives always upon all there is; and 
all there is lives in the faith, shoreless, upon the bounty of the 
Most High." 


And on a morning when the sky was yet pale with dawn, they walked all 
together in the Garden and looked unto the East and were silent in the 
presence of the rising sun. 

And after a while Almustafa pointed with his hand, and said: "The 
image of the morning sun in a dewdrop is not less than the sun. The 
reflection of life in your soul is not less than life. 

"The dewdrop mirrors the light because it is one with light, and you 
reflect life because you and life are one. 

"When darkness is upon you, say: 'This darkness is dawn not yet born; 
and though night's travail be full upon me, yet shall dawn be born 
unto me even as unto the hills.' 

"The dewdrop rounding its sphere in the dusk of the lily is not unlike 
yourself gathering your soul in the heart of God. 

"Shall a dewdrop say: 'But once in a thousand years I am a dewdrop,' 
speak you and answer it saying: 'Know you not that the light of all 
the years is shining in your circle?' " 


And on an evening a great storm visited the place, and Almustafa and 
his disciples, the nine, went within and sat about the fire and were 

Then one of the disciples said: "I am alone, Master, and the hoofs of 
the hours beat heavily upon my breast." 

And Almustafa rose up and stood in their midst, and he said in a voice 
like unto the sound of a great wind: "Alone! And what of it? You came 
alone, and alone shall you pass into the mist. 

"Therefore drink your cup alone and in silence. The autumn days have 
given other lips other cups and filled them with wine bitter and 
sweet, even as they have filled your cup. 

"Drink your cup alone though it taste of your own blood and tears, and 
praise life for the gift of thirst. For without thirst your heart is 
but the shore of a barren sea, songless and without a tide. 

"Drink your cup alone, and drink it with cheers. 

"Raise it high above your head and drink deep to those who drink 

"Once I sought the company of men and sat with them at their 
banquet-tables and drank deep with them; but their wine did not rise 
to my head, nor did it flow into my bosom. It only descended to my 
feet. My wisdom was left dry and my heart was locked and sealed. Only 
my feet were with them in their fog. 

"And I sought the company of men no more, nor drank wine with them at 
their board. 

"Therefore I say unto you, though the hoofs of the hours beat heavily 
upon your bosom, what of it? It is well for you to drink your cup of 
sorrow alone, and your cup of joy shall you drink alone also." 


And on a day, as Phardrous, the Greek, walked in the Garden, he struck 
his foot upon a stone and he was angered. And he turned and picked up 
the stone, saying in a low voice: "O dead thing in my path!" and he 
flung away the stone. 

And Almustafa, the chosen and the beloved, said: "Why say you: 'O dead 
thing'? Have you been thus long in this Garden and know not that there 
is nothing dead here? All things live and glow in the knowledge of the 
day and the majesty of the night. You and the stone are one. There is 
a difference only in heart-beats. Your heart beats a little faster, 
does it, my friend? Ay, but it is not so tranquil. 

"Its rhythm may be another rhythm, but I say unto you that if you 
sound the depths of your soul and scale the heights of space, you 
shall hear one melody, and in that melody the stone and the star sing, 
the one with the other, in perfect unison. 

"If my words reach not your understanding, then let be until another 
dawn. If you have cursed this stone because in your blindness you have 
stumbled upon it, then would you curse a star if so be your head 
should encounter it in the sky. But the day will come when you will 
gather stones and stars as a child plucks the valley-lilies, and then 
shall you know that all these things are living and fragrant." 


And on the first day of the week when the sounds of the temple bells 
sought their ears, one spoke and said: "Master, we hear much talk of 
God hereabout. What say you of God, and who is He in very truth?" 

And he stood before them like a young tree, fearless of wind or 
tempest, and he answered saying: "Think now, my comrades and beloved, 
of a heart that contains all your hearts, a love that encompasses all 
your loves, a spirit that envelops all your spirits, a voice enfolding 
all your voices, and a silence deeper than all your silences, and 

"Seek now to perceive in your self-fullness a beauty more enchanting 
than all things beautiful, a song more vast than the songs of the sea 
and the forest, a majesty seated upon the throne for which Orion is 
but a footstool, holding a sceptre in which the Pleiades are naught 
save the glimmer of dewdrops. 

"You have sought always only food and shelter, a garment and a staff; 
seek now One who is neither an aim for your arrows nor a stony cave to 
shield you from the elements. 

"And if my words are a rock and a riddle, then seek, none the less, 
that your hearts may be broken, and that your questionings may bring 
you unto the love and the wisdom of the Most High, whom men call God." 

And they were silent, every one, and they were perplexed in their 
heart; and Almustafa was moved with compassion for them, and he gazed 
with tenderness upon them and said: "Let us speak rather of the gods, 
your neighbours, and of your brothers, the elements that move about 
your houses and your fields. 

"You would rise up in fancy unto the cloud, and you deem it height; 
and you would pass over the vast sea and claim it to be distance. But 
I say unto you that when you sow a seed in the earth, you reach a 
greater height; and when you hail the beauty of the morning to your 
neighbour, you cross a greater sea. 

"Too often do you sing God, the Infinite, and yet in truth you hear 
not the song. Would that you might listen to the song-birds, and to 
the leaves that forsake the branch when the wind passes by, and forget 
not, my friends, that these sing only when they are separated from the 

"Again I bid you to speak not so freely of God, who is your All, but 
speak rather and understand one another, neighbour unto neighbour, a 
god unto a god. 

"For what shall feed the fledgling in the nest if the mother bird 
flies skyward? And what anemone in the fields shall be fulfilled 
unless it be husbanded by a bee from another anemone? 

"It is only when you are lost in your smaller selves that you seek the 
sky which you call God. Would that you might find paths into your vast 
selves; would that you might be less idle and pave the roads! 

"My mariners and my friends, it were wiser to speak less of God, whom 
we cannot understand, and more of each other, whom we may understand. 
Yet I would have you know that we are the breath and the fragrance of 
God. We are God, in leaf, in flower, and oftentimes in fruit." 


And on a morning when the sun was high, one of the disciples, one of 
those three who had played with him in childhood, approached him 
saying: "Master, my garment is worn, and I have no other. Give me 
leave to go unto the market-place and bargain that perchance I may 
procure me new raiment." 

And Almustafa looked upon the young man, and he said: "Give me your 
garment." And he did so and stood naked in the noonday. 

And Almustafa said in a voice that was like a young steed running upon 
a road: "Only the naked live in the sun. Only the artless ride the 
wind. And he alone who loses his way a thousand times shall have a 

"The angels are tired of the clever. And it was but yesterday that an 
angel said to me: 'We created hell for those who glitter. What else 
but fire can erase a shining surface and melt a thing to its core?' 

"And I said: 'But in creating hell you created devils to govern hell.' 
But the angel answered: 'Nay, hell is governed by those who do not 
yield to fire.' 

"Wise angel! He knows the ways of men and the ways of half-men. He is 
one of the seraphim who come to minister unto the prophets when they 
are tempted by the clever. And no doubt he smiled when the prophets 
smile, and weeps also when they weep. 

"My friends and my mariners, only the naked live in the sun. Only the 
rudderless can sail the greater sea. Only he who is dark with the 
night shall wake with the dawn, and only he who sleeps with the roots 
under the snow shall reach the spring. 

"For you are even like roots, and like roots are you simple, yet you 
have wisdom from the earth. And you are silent, yet you have within 
your unborn branches the choir of the four winds. 

"You are frail and you are formless, yet you are the beginning of 
giant oaks, and of the half-pencilled patterned of the willows against 
the sky. 

"Once more I say, you are but roots betwixt the dark sod and the 
moving heavens. And oftentimes have I seen you rising to dance with 
the light, but I have also seen you shy. All roots are shy. They have 
hidden their hearts so long that they know not what to do with their 

"But May shall come, and May is a restless virgin, and she shall 
mother the hills and plains." 


And one who had served in the Temple besought him saying: "Teach us, 
Master, that our words may be even as your words, a chant and an 
incense unto the people." 

And Almustafa answered and said: "You shall rise beyond your words, 
but your path shall remain, a rhythm and a fragrance; a rhythm for 
lovers and for all who are beloved, and a fragrance for those who 
would live life in a garden. 

"But you shall rise beyond your words to a summit whereon the 
star-dust falls, and you shall open your hands until they are filled; 
then you shall lie down and sleep like a white fledgling in a white 
nest, and you shall dream of your tomorrow as white violets dream of 

"Ay, and you shall go down deeper than your words. You shall seek the 
lost fountain-heads of the streams, and you shall be a hidden cave 
echoing the faint voices of the depths which now you do not even hear. 

"You shall go down deeper than your words, ay, deeper than all sounds, 
to the very heart of the earth, and there you shall be alone with Him 
who walks also upon the Milky Way." 

And after a space one of the disciples asked him saying: "Master, 
speak to us of being. What is it to be?" 

And Almustafa looked long upon him and loved him. And he stood up and 
walked a distance away from them; then returning, he said: "In this 
Garden my father and my mother lie, buried by the hands of the living; 
and in this Garden lie buried the seeds of yesteryear, bought hither 
upon the wings of the wind. A thousand times shall my mother and my 
father be buried here, and a thousand times shall the wind bury the 
seed; and a thousand years hence shall you and I and these flowers 
come together in this Garden even as now, and we shall be, loving 
life, and we shall be, dreaming of space, and we shall be, rising 
towards the sun. 

"But now today to be is to be wise, though not a stranger to the 
foolish; it is to be strong, but not to the undoing of the weak; to 
play with young children, not as fathers, but rather as playmates who 
would learn their games; 

"To be simple and guileless with old men and women, and to sit with 
them in the shade of the ancient oak-trees, though you are still 
walking with Spring; 

"To seek a poet though he may live beyond the seven rivers, and to be 
at peace in his presence, nothing wanting, nothing doubting, and with 
no question upon your lips; 

"To know that the saint and the sinner are twin brothers, whose father 
is our Gracious King, and that one was born but the moment before the 
other, wherefore we regard his as the Crowned Prince; 

"To follow Beauty even when she shall lead you to the verge of the 
precipice; and though she is winged and you are wingless, and though 
she shall pass beyond the verge, follow her, for where Beauty is not, 
there is nothing; 

"To be a garden without walls, a vineyard without a guardian, a 
treasure-house for ever open to passers-by; 

"To be robbed, cheated, deceived, ay, misled and trapped and then 
mocked, yet with it all to look down from the height of your larger 
self and smile, knowing that there is spring that will come to your 
garden to dance in your leaves, and an autumn to ripen your grapes; 
knowing that if but one of your windows is open to the East, you shall 
never be empty; knowing that all those deemed wrongdoers and robbers, 
cheaters and deceivers are your brothers in need, and that you are 
perchance all of these in the eyes of the blessed inhabitants of that 
City Invisible, above this city. 

"And now, to you also whose hands fashion and find all things that are 
needful for the comfort of our days and our nights-- 

"To be is to be a weaver with seeing fingers, a builder mindful of 
light and space; to be a ploughman and feel that you are hiding a 
treasure with every seed you sow; to be a fisherman and a hunter with 
a pity for the fish and for the beast, yet a still greater pity for 
the hunger and need of man. 

"And, above all, I say this: I would have you each and every one 
partners to the purpose of every man, for only so shall you hope to 
obtain your own good purpose. 

"My comrades and my beloved, be bold and not meek; be spacious and not 
confined; and until my final hour and yours be indeed your greater 

And he ceased speaking and there fell a deep gloom upon the nine, and 
their heart was turned away from him, for they understood not his 

And behold, the three men who were mariners longed for the sea; and 
they who had served in the Temple yearned for the consolation of her 
sanctuary; and they who had been his playfellows desired the 
market-place. They all were deaf to his words, so that the sound of 
them returned unto him like weary and homeless birds seeking refuge. 

And Almustafa walked a distance from them in the Garden, saying 
nothing, nor looking upon them. 

And they began to reason among themselves and to seek excuse for their 
longing to be gone. 

And behold, they turned and went every man to his own place, so that 
Almustafa, the chosen and the beloved, was left alone. 


And when the night was fully come, he took his steps to the grave-side 
of his mother and sat beneath the cedar-tree which grew above the 
place. And there came the shadow of a great light upon the sky, and 
the Garden shone like a fair jewel upon the breast of earth. 

And Almustafa cried out in the aloneness of his spirit, and he said: 

"Heavy-laden is my soul with her own ripe fruit. Who is there would 
come and take and be satisfied? Is there not one who has fasted and 
who is kindly and generous in heart, to come and break his fast upon 
my first yieldings to the sun and thus ease me of the weight of mine 
own abundance? 

"My soul is running over with the wine of the ages. Is there no 
thirsty one to come and drink? 

"Behold, there was a man standing at the cross-roads with hands 
stretched forth unto the passers-by, and his hands were filled with 
jewels. And he called upon the passers-by, saying: 'Pity me, and take 
from me. In God's name, take out of my hands and console me.' 

"But the passers-by only looked upon him, and none took out of his 

"Would rather that he were a beggar stretching forth his hand to 
receive -- ay, a shivering hand, and brought back empty to his bosom 
-- than to stretch it forth full of rich gifts and find none to 

"And behold, there was also the gracious prince who raised up his 
silken tents between the mountain and the desert and bade his servants 
to burn fire, a sign to the stranger and the wanderer; and who sent 
forth his slaves to watch the road that they might fetch a guest. But 
the roads and the paths of the desert were unyielding, and they found 
no one. 

"Would rather that prince were a man of nowhere and nowhen, seeking 
food and shelter. Would that he were the wanderer with naught but his 
staff and an earthen vessel. For then at nightfall would he meet with 
his kind, and with the poets of nowhere and nowhen, and share their 
beggary and their remembrances and their dreaming. 

"And behold, the daughter of the great king rose from sleep and put 
upon her silken raiment and her pearls and rubies, and she scattered 
musk upon her hair and dipped her fingers in amber. Then she descended 
from her tower to her garden, where the dew of night found her golden 

"In the stillness of the night the daughter of a ploughman, tending 
his sheep in a field, and returning to her father's house at eventide 
with the dust of the curving roads upon her feet, and the fragrance of 
the vineyards in the folds of her garment. 

And when the night is come, and the angel of the night is upon the 
world, she would steal her steps to the river-valley where her lover 

"Would that she were a nun in a cloister burning her heart for 
incense, that her heart may rise to the wind, and exhausting her 
spirit, a candle, for a light arising toward the greater light, 
together with all those who worship and those who love and are 

"Would rather that she were a woman ancient of years, sitting in the 
sun and remembering who had shared her youth." 

And the night waxed deep, and Almustafa was dark with the night, and 
his spirit was as a cloud unspent. And he cried again: 

"Heavy-laden is my soul with her own ripe fruit; 
Heavy-laden is my soul with her fruit. 
Who now will come and eat and be fulfilled? 
My soul is overflowing with her wine. 
Who now will pour and drink and be cooled of the desert heat? 

"Would that I were a tree flowerless and fruitless, 
For the pain of abundance is more bitter than barrenness, 
And the sorrow of the rich from whom no one will take 
Is greater than the grief of the beggar to whom none would give. 

"Would that I were a well, dry and parched , and men throwing stones 
into me; 
For this were better and easier to be borne than to be a source of 
living water 
When men pass by and will not drink. 

"Would that I were a reed trodden under foot, 
For that were better than to be a lyre of silvery strings 
In a house whose lord has no fingers 
And whose children are deaf." 


Now, for seven days and seven nights no man came nigh the Garden, and 
he was alone with is memories and his pain; for even those who had 
heard his words with love and patience had turned away to the pursuits 
of other days. 

Only Karima came, with silence upon her face like a veil; and with cup 
and plate within her hand, drink and meat for his aloneness and his 
hunger. And after setting these before him, she walked her way. 

And Almustafa came again to the company of the white poplars within 
the gate, and he sat looking upon the road. And after a while he 
beheld as it were a cloud of dust blown above the road and coming 
toward him. And from out the cloud came the nine, and before them 
Karima guiding them. 

And Almustafa advanced and met them upon the road, and they passed 
through the gate, and all was well, as though they had gone their path 
but an hour ago. 

They came in and supped with him at his frugal board, after that 
Karima had laid upon it the bread and the fish and poured the last of 
the wine into the cups. And as she poured, she besought the Master 
saying: "Give me leave that I go into the city and fetch wine to 
replenish your cups, for this is spent." 

And he looked upon her, and in his eyes were a journey and a far 
country, and he said: "Nay, for it is sufficient unto the hour." 

And they ate and drank and were satisfied. And when it was finished, 
Almustafa spoke in a vast voice, deep as the sea and full as a great 
tide under the moon, and he said: "My comrades and my road-fellows, we 
must needs part this day. Long have we climbed the steepest mountains 
and we have wrestled with the storms. We have known hunger, but we 
have also sat at wedding-feasts. Oftentimes have we been naked, but we 
have also worn kingly raiment. We have indeed travelled far, but now 
we part. Together you shall go your way, and alone must I go mine. 

"And though the seas and the vast lands shall separate us, still we 
shall be companions upon our journey to the Holy Mountain. 

"But before we go our severed roads, I would give unto you the harvest 
and the gleaning of my heart: 

"Go you upon your way with singing, but let each song be brief, for 
only the songs that die young upon your lips shall live in human 

"Tell a lovely truth in little words, but never an ugly truth in any 
words. Tell the maiden whose hair shines in the sun that she is the 
daughter of the morning. But if you shall behold the sightless, say 
not to him that he is one with night. 

"Listen to the flute-player as it were listening to April, but if you 
shall hear the critic and the fault-finder speak, be deaf as your own 
bones and as distant as your fancy. 

"My comrades and my beloved, upon your way you shall meet men with 
hoofs; give them your wings. And men with horns; give them wreaths of 
laurel. And men with claws; give them petals for fingers. And men with 
forked tongues; give them honey words. 

"Ay, you shall meet all these and more; you shall meet the lame 
selling crutches; and the blind, mirrors. And you shall meet the rich 
men begging at the gate of the Temple. 

"To the lame give your swiftness, to the blind of your vision; and see 
that you give of yourself to the rich beggars; they are the most needy 
of all, for surely no man would stretch a hand for alms unless he be 
poor indeed, though of great possessions. 

"My comrades and my friends, I charge you by our love that you be 
countless paths which cross one another in the desert, where the lions 
and the rabbits walk, and also the wolves and the sheep. 

"And remember this of me: I teach you not giving, but receiving; not 
denial, but fulfilment; and not yielding, but understanding, with the 
smile upon the lips. 

"I teach you not silence, but rather a song not over-loud. 

"I teach you your larger self, which contains all men." 

And he rose from the board and went out straightway into the Garden 
and walked under the shadow of the cypress-trees as the day waned. And 
they followed him, at a little distance, for their heart was heavy, 
and their tongue clave to the roof of their mouth. 

Only Karima, after she had put by the fragments, came unto him and 
said: "Master, I would that you suffer me to prepare food against the 
morrow and your journey." 

And he looked upon her with eyes that saw other worlds that this, and 
he said: "My sister, and my beloved, it is done, even from the 
beginning of time. The food and the drink is ready, for the morrow, 
even as for our yesterday and our today. 

"I go, but if I go with a truth not yet voiced, that very truth will 
again seek me and gather me, though my elements be scattered 
throughout the silences of eternity, and again shall I come before you 
that I may speak with a voice born anew out of the heart of those 
boundless silences. 

"And if there be aught of beauty that I have declared not unto you, 
then once again shall I be called, ay, even by mine own name, 
Almustafa, and I shall give you a sign, that you may know I have come 
back to speak all that is lacking, for God will not suffer Himself to 
be hidden from man, nor His word to lie covered in the abyss of the 
heart of man. 

"I shall live beyond death, and I shall sing in your ears 
Even after the vast sea-wave carries me back 
To the vast sea-depth. 
I shall sit at your board though without a body, 
And I shall go with you to your fields, a spirit invisible. 
I shall come to you at your fireside, a guest unseen. 
Death changes nothing but the masks that cover our faces. 
The woodsman shall be still a woodsman, 
The ploughman, a ploughman, 
And he who sang his song to the wind shall sing it also to the moving 

And the disciples were as still as stones, and grieved in their heart 
for that he had said: "I go." But no man put out his hand to stay the 
Master, nor did any follow after his footsteps. 

And Almustafa went out from the Garden of his mother, and his feet 
were swift and they were soundless; and in a moment, like a blown leaf 
in a strong wind, he was far gone from them, and they saw, as it were, 
a pale light moving up to the heights. 

And the nine walked their ways down the road. But the woman still 
stood in the gathering night, and she beheld how the light and the 
twilight were become one; and she comforted her desolation and her 
aloneness with his words: "I go, but if I go with a truth not yet 
voiced, that very truth will seek me and gather me, and again shall I 


And now it was eventide. 

And he had reached the hills. His steps had led him to the mist, and 
he stood among the rocks and the white cypress-trees hidden from all 
things, and he spoke and said: 

"O Mist, my sister, white breath not yet held in a mould, 
I return to you, a breath white and voiceless, 
A word not yet uttered. 

"O Mist, my winged sister mist, we are together now, 
And together we shall be till life's second day, 
Whose dawn shall lay you, dewdrops in a garden, 
And me a babe upon the breast of a woman, 
And we shall remember. 

"O Mist, my sister, I come back, a heart listening in its depths, 
Even as your heart, 
A desire throbbing and aimless even as your desire, 
A thought not yet gathered, even as your thought. 

"O Mist, my sister, first-born of my mother, 
My hands still hold the green seeds you bade me scatter, 
And my lips are sealed upon the song you bade me sing; 
And I bring you no fruit, and I bring you no echoes 
For my hands were blind, and my lips unyielding. 

"O Mist, my sister, much did I love the world, and the world loved me, 
For all my smiles were upon her lips, and all her tears were in my 
Yet there was between us a gulf of silence which she would not abridge 
And I could not overstep. 

"O Mist, my sister, my deathless sister Mist, 
I sang the ancient songs unto my little children, 
And they listened, and there was wondering upon their face; 
But tomorrow perchance they will forget the song, 
And I know not to whom the wind will carry the song. 
And though it was not mine own, yet it came to my heart 
And dwelt for a moment upon my lips. 

"O Mist, my sister, though all this came to pass, 
I am at peace. 
It was enough to sing to those already born. 
And though the singing is indeed not mine, 
Yet it is of my heart's deepest desire. 

"O Mist, my sister, my sister Mist, 
I am one with you now. 
No longer am I a self. 
The walls have fallen, 
And the chains have broken; 
I rise to you, a mist, 
And together we shall float upon the sea until life's second day, 
When dawn shall lay you, dewdrops in a garden, 
And me a babe upon the breast of a woman." 

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