Showing some love

September 19, 2007

Most of you know I’m an English major. And most English majors I know like to think of themselves in the present tense as English majors. Not “Oh, I majored in English” or “I was an English major.” We are English majors. Because we are poets. Lovers. Bohemians. We didn’t choose business or athletic administration or underwater basketweaving. We chose English. Because English chose us.

During my late teens and early 20s, I adored many poets, philosophers and writers. One of my favorites was Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese poet who moved to the south side of Boston, very near where I used to live, when he was 12.

For those of you who are familiar with The Prophet, this will be nothing new. But the pictures from yesterday’s post brought this to mind, and I began thinking again of the dance of intimacy that we do with our loved ones, especially our mates. Closer. Back a step. Right. Left. Twirl. Push. Pull. Dip.

I’m torn between my love for Gibran’s prose and no longer being able to wholeheartedly agree with everything he says. Ah, the impetuousness of youth. But for the thought that it brought both when I was posing for the pictures (and had pulled away purposefully without Jon’s noticing, curious to see how far I could go before he turned) and also just for the joy of sharing a work like this in a forum like this, without further ado, I present:

Gibran on Marriage…

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.
Aye, 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 not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

One last thought that makes me smile: Redwood trees seem to grow just fine in the shade. Thinking of it, I wonder if they actually grow larger because of it. Curious, that.




  1. Beautiful thoughts and a great poem.

    I think that redwoods grow from each others roots. They are actually one connected tree when you see a group of them growing close together. The needles fall off of the lower branches and they die because they don’t get enough sun. The branches nearer the top are the ones that are alive.

  2. Somehow, I’m thinking the recognition of our oneness (all of us.. not just romantic partners or even friends) makes all the rest of it work itself out.

    For the most part, I agree with Gibran on this.. but recognize that there has to be an underlying understanding of that. None of us stand alone. It’s simply impossible.




  3. Thanks, Seventh Sister. I love to post what comes to mind and throw it out there to see if it finds root with anyone else (no pun intended). That’s a fascinating bit of redwood information. I do love those forests so.

    Chani ~ Thanks so much for your comments. Yes, yes, yes. I can’t remember who was talking about how we go from dependence to independence to INTER-dependence, but the cycling through it is important to be able to reach the stage where we are capable of truly giving to others in a meaningful way. A part of me hurts for every person who thinks/feels that he or she is alone. And how marvelous when we realize that we aren’t!

  4. Funny how words expressed “just so” are so convincing – especially when we’re young.
    Parts of this poem do ring true.
    Question. Was Gibran ever married?

  5. Beth ~ What a wonderful question! I only wish I had thought of it. Apparently his father was a thief and jailed; his mother moved the family to America sans dad. Not a great example of what marriage should be.

    Wikipedia says he wasn’t married but had a friendship with a woman named Mary Haskell that was publicly discreet and privately intimate. She helped his sister arrange for him to be buried back in Lebanon. (Though I just read on a separate site that she married someone else and their friendship waned. Their correspondence seems to span about 15 years, as far as I can tell.)

    “You listen to so much more than I can say. You hear consciousness.
    You go with me where the words I say can’t carry you.”
    (Kahlil Gibran from Mary Haskell’s Journal June 5, 1924.)

  6. As another (ahem) English major, I must say, dear friend, I agree with your assessment of us all. Especially found interesting your changing tastes as time has gone by. Gibran I recall reading thoroughly in my 20s, and likewise Dylan Thomas. Somebody once said that Dylan Thomas is best left for college coeds because most mature people have grown beyond him. I think there’s probably truth in that. And, now I’m rambling, mainly because I really like conversing with you, and also because I’m an English major.

  7. Hi Ian ~ Aren’t we a strange group? And I mean that in a complimentary way, of course. But we’re different. Just as engineers are different. Heck, I guess we’re all different, but you get me. In reading a bit more I realized that Gibran wrote The Prophet when he was 15. No wonder I enjoyed it so much when I was younger. I still like it very much, but I don’t connect with it the way I did when I was younger, sadly (and joyously all at the same time). You understand.

  8. Who gets married anymore? I thought that was out in this year’s fashions.

  9. Hi Jim ~ As Buffy the Vampire said with a huff, “That is soooo five minutes ago.” Marriage for me has been a different relationship than the live-in relationship I had. I don’t know if it’s that way for everyone, but it’s a different dynamic for me.

  10. I had my father read that passage at my wedding to my son’s father in 1984. We took it too literally I think. Five years after the wedding we had so much space between us we could not see each other over the horizon.
    Interesting that Gibran wrote it when he was 15. I still like the lovely cadence of the words, but I don’t completely agree with the advice any more.

  11. I am not a poet and I barely survived English. But, I do have an appreciation for words on a page. I like how these words remind that a marriage is a unit, singular in what it is, yet, not forgotten is the two individuals that make up the unit, kept to remain individual. Very nice.

  12. V. ~ I couldn’t agree more. That balance of identity and space. Him. Her. The Marriage. They each have their separate identities, but too far away from each other, and they lose that magic that happens when the stars are aligned just right. Finding that balance . . .

    Pool ~ You surprise me. I would never have guessed that about you in a million years. I think you’re a poet who doesn’t know it. 🙂 And I believe that everyone who starts a blog is an English major at heart.

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