Khalil Gibran was a Lebanese-American writer, artist, poet and philosopher born on the 6th January 1883 and died on the 10th April 1931. His first published works were drawings in 1904 and an Arabic book in 1905, after which he studied art in Paris, beginning to meet and learn from political intellectuals from Syria, who wished to promote rebellion in the Ottoman Empire. His work began to express similar ideas and once he moved back to New York, began to publish his writing in English, as well as displaying artwork in galleries across the city.
Gibran is perhaps most well known for his work The Prophet, released in 1923, which has subsequently become one of the best-selling books ever, being translated into over 100 languages. Despite rejecting the tag of a philosopher, he maintained his communication with fellow writers and philosophers from Syria and founded the Pen League with other Mahjari poets.
By his death, he was well known across the world and has been mentioned as inspiration by many writers up to today, as well as being a literary hero in the middle east, particularly Lebanon. We hope that our collection of quotations will help provide an insight into this man and tempt you to read some of his work.
1. I prefer to be a dreamer among the humblest, with visions to be realized, than lord among those without dreams and desires.
2. Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.
3. Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.
4. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
5. I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.
6. When we turn to one another for counsel we reduce the number of our enemies.
7. Zeal is a volcano, the peak of which the grass of indecisiveness does not grow.
8. Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.
9. Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.
10. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
11. The eye of a human being is a microscope, which makes the world seem bigger than it really is.
12. All that spirits desire, spirits attain.
13. Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.
14. What difference is there between us, save a restless dream that follows my soul but fears to come near you?
15. Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being.
16. Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking
17. A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.
18. Poverty is a veil that obscures the face of greatness. An appeal is a mask covering the face of tribulation.
19. We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.
20. Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills?
21. The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply.
22. If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don’t, they never were.
23. 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.
24. Pain and foolishness lead to great bliss and complete knowledge, for Eternal Wisdom created nothing under the sun in vain.
25. They consider me to have sharp and penetrating vision because I see them through the mesh of a sieve.
26. Wisdom stands at the turn in the road and calls upon us publicly, but we consider it false and despise its adherents.
27. Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood.
28. Hallow the body as a temple to comeliness and sanctify the heart as a sacrifice to love; love recompenses the adorers.
29. Nor shall derision prove powerful against those who listen to humanity or those who follow in the footsteps of divinity, for they shall live forever. Forever.
30. Coming generations will learn equality from poverty, and love from woes.
31. Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.
32. Rebellion without truth is like spring in a bleak, arid desert.
33. Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration.
34. Would that I were a dry well, and that the people tossed stones into me, for that would be easier than to be a spring of flowing water that the thirsty pass by, and from which they avoid drinking.
35. You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
36. Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.
37. Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
38. Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.
39. The person you consider ignorant and insignificant is the one who came from God, that he might learn bliss from grief and knowledge from gloom.
40. I existed from all eternity and, behold, I am here; and I shall exist till the end of time, for my being has no end.
41. If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.
42. The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.
43. You have your ideology and I have mine.
44. Death most resembles a prophet who is without honor in his own land or a poet who is a stranger among his people.
45. What is this world that is hastening me toward I know not what, viewing me with contempt?
46. Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.
47. If the grandfather of the grandfather of Jesus had known what was hidden within him, he would
have stood humble and awe-struck before his soul.
48. Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.
49. Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
50. Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.
51. A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?
52. 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.
53. All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind.
54. 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?
55. Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
56. If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?
57. And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.
58. Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
59. I wash my hands of those who imagine chattering to be knowledge, silence to be ignorance, and affection to be art.
60. Knowledge cultivates your seeds and does not sow in your seeds.