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   Chapter 1 THE COMING OF THE SHIP

The Prophet By Kahlil Gibran Characters: 6431

Updated: 2018-12-29 12:01


ALMUSTAFA, the chosen and the beloved, who was a

Dawn unto his own day, had waited twelve years in the

City of Orphalese for his ship that was to return and bear him

Back to the isle of his birth.

And in the twelfth year, on the seventh day of Ielool, the

Month of reaping, he climbed the hill without the city walls

And looked seaward; and he beheld his ship coming with the

Mist.

Then the gates of his heart were flung open, and his joy

Flew far over the sea. And he closed his eyes and prayed in the

Silences of his soul.

But as he descended the hill, a sadness came upon him, and

He thought in his heart: How shall I go in peace and without

Sorrow? Nay, not without a wound in the spirit shall I leave

This city.

Long were the days of pain I have spent within its walls, and

Long were the nights of aloneness; and who can depart from

His pain and his aloneness without regret?

Too many fragments of the spirit have I scattered in these

Streets, and too many are the children of my longing that

Walk naked among these hills, and I cannot withdraw from

Them without a burden and an ache. It is not a garment I cast

Off this day, but a skin that I tear with my own hands. Nor is

It a thought I leave behind me, but a heart made sweet with

Hunger and with thirst.

Yet I cannot tarry longer. The sea that calls all things unto

Her calls me, and I must embark. For to stay, though the hours

Burn in the night, is to freeze and crystallise and be bound in

A mould. Fain would I take with me all that is here.

But how shall I? A voice cannot carry the tongue and the

Lips that gave it wings. Alone must it seek the ether. And alone

And without his nest shall the eagle fly across the sun.

Now when he reached the foot of the hill, he turned again

Towards the sea, and he saw his ship approaching the harbour, And upon her prow the mariners, the men of his own land.

And his soul cried out to them, and he said: Sons of my

Ancient mother, you riders of the tides, How often have you

Sailed in my dreams. And now you come in my awakening, Which is my deeper dream.

Ready am I to go, and my eagerness with sails full set awaits

The wind. Only another breath will I breathe in this still air, Only another loving look cast backward, And then I shall

Stand among you, a seafarer among seafarers.

And you, vast sea, sleepless mother, Who alone are peace

And freedom to the river and the stream, Only another wind-

Ing will this stream make, only another murmur in this glade, And then I shall come to you, a boundless drop to a boundless

Ocean.

And as he walked he saw from afar men and women leaving

Their fields and their vineyards and hastening towards the city

Gates. And he heard their voices calling his name, and shout-

Ing from field to field telling one another of the coming of his

Ship.

And he said to himself: Shall the day of parting be the day

Of gathering? And shall it be said that my eve was in truth my

Dawn?

And what shall I give unto him who has left his plough in

Mid furrow, or to him who has stopped the wheel of his wine-

Press? Shall my he

art become a tree heavy-laden with fruit

That I may gather and give unto them? And shall my desires

Flow like a fountain that I may fill their cups? Am I a harp

That the hand of the mighty may touch me, or a flute that his

Breath may pass through me?

A seeker of silences am I, and what treasure have I found in

Silences that I may dispense with confidence? If this is my day

Of harvest, in what fields have I sowed the seed, and in what

Unremembered seasons? If this indeed be the hour in which I

Lift up my lantern, it is not my flame that shall burn therein.

Empty and dark shall I raise my lantern, and the guardian of

The night shall fill it with oil and he shall light it also.

These things he said in words. But much in his heart re-

Mained unsaid. For he himself could not speak his deeper se-

Cret. And when he entered into the city all the people came to

Meet him, and they were crying out to him as with one voice.

And the elders of the city stood forth and said: Go not yet

Away from us. A noontide have you been in our twilight, and

Your youth has given us dreams to dream. No stranger are you

Among us, nor a guest, but our son and our dearly beloved.

Suffer not yet our eyes to hunger for your face.

And the priests and the priestesses said unto him: Let

Not the waves of the sea separate us now, and the years you

Have spent in our midst become a memory. You have walked

Among us a spirit, and your shadow has been a light upon our

Faces.

Much have we loved you. But speechless was our love, and

With veils has it been veiled. Yet now it cries aloud unto you, And would stand revealed before you. And ever has it been

That love knows not its own depth until the hour of separa-

Tion. And others came also and entreated him. But he an-

Swered them not.

He only bent his head; and those who stood near saw his

Tears falling upon his breast.

And he and the people proceeded towards the great square

Before the temple. And there came out of the sanctuary a

Woman whose name was Almitra. And she was a seeress.

And he looked upon her with exceeding tenderness, for it

Was she who had first sought and believed in him when he had

Been but a day in their city.

And she hailed him, saying: Prophet of God, in quest of the

Uttermost, long have you searched the distances for your ship.

And now your ship has come, and you must needs go.

Deep is your longing for the land of your memories and the

Dwelling place of your greater desires; and our love would not

Bind you nor our needs hold you.

Yet this we ask ere you leave us, that you speak to us and give

Us of your truth. And we will give it unto our children, and

They unto their children, and it shall not perish.

In your aloneness you have watched with our days, and in

Your wakefulness you have listened to the weeping and the

Laughter of our sleep.

Now therefore disclose us to ourselves, and tell us all that

Has been shown you of that which is between birth and death.

And he answered: People of Orphalese, of what can I speak

Save of that which is even now moving within your souls?

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