The Prophet

A masterpiece filled with metaphorical poetry

1923 Kahlil Gibran | Désanne van Brederode

5 Stars
Photo by Faruk Kaymak

True beauty with an even more beautiful ending

22 December 2022

This book is a masterpiece filled with metaphorical poetry. It holds many wonderful insights. I received the Dutch translation as a gift. Funny thing is, the final chapter, written by the translator puts the reader's feet back on the ground. Yes, the book is a masterpiece, but the idea you may have of the spiritual American-Arabic writer may be different from who he was in reality. For example, Gibran lived in Boston since he was 12 and eventually left the world as an alcoholic.

The translator, Désanne van Brederode, writes about her own life and her experience growing up in a new-age environment where the search for spirituality was colored by glimpses of hypocrisy. At the same time, she explains how true spirituality was found in corners where you would least expect it. This, in my opinion, was the most beautiful and eye-opening concluding chapter of any spiritual book I've read to date.


  • Paperback:‎ 64 pages
  • E-book: 89 pages
  • ISBN-10:‎ 1441338365
  • ISBN-13:‎ 978-1441338365

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"The Prophet" is a collection of poetic essays written by Lebanese-American poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran. The book, published in 1923, tells the story of Almustafa, a prophet who has been living in exile for 12 years on the island of Orphalese. As he prepares to return to his homeland, the people of Orphalese gather around him, asking for his wisdom and insights on various aspects of life. Through 26 prose poems, Almustafa offers profound reflections on various topics such as love, marriage, work, joy and sorrow, and freedom.

Ultimately, "The Prophet" provides timeless wisdom on personal growth and the interconnectedness of all aspects of human existence. It encourages readers to live consciously, compassionately, and authentically, embracing both the joys and challenges of life.

Important learnings and insights

  1. Love
    Love is a central theme in "The Prophet." Gibran explores different aspects of love, including romantic love, love for others, and love as a spiritual force.
  2. Joy and Sorrow
    The book delves into the intertwined nature of joy and sorrow. It suggests that joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin, and that one's capacity for joy is directly linked to their willingness to embrace sorrow.
  3. Self-Knowledge
    The Prophet emphasizes the importance of self-discovery and understanding. It encourages individuals to look within themselves and seek knowledge of their own souls.
  4. Freedom
    Gibran discusses freedom in various forms, highlighting the concept of personal freedom as well as the freedom to choose one's own path and destiny.
  5. Marriage and Relationships
    The book explores the significance of marriage and the complexities of relationships. It touches upon the themes of partnership, friendship, and the balance between independence and togetherness.
  6. Work and Labor
    Gibran reflects on the value of work and the act of labor. He encourages individuals to find fulfillment in their work and view it as a way of contributing to the world.
  7. Good and Evil
    The Prophet delves into the nature of good and evil, suggesting that they are not separate entities but rather intertwined aspects of the human experience. It emphasizes the importance of finding balance and rising above dualistic thinking.
  8. Beauty
    Gibran celebrates the beauty of the world and the human experience. He urges individuals to appreciate and find beauty in both the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of life.
  9. Death
    Death is examined as a natural part of life rather than something to be feared. Gibran encourages acceptance and sees death as a transition to a greater existence.
  10. Spirituality
    Throughout the book, Gibran weaves threads of spirituality, exploring concepts such as the soul, divinity, and the connection between humans and the divine. He encourages readers to seek spiritual growth and find meaning in their lives.

37 significant notes

View these highlights on Goodreads

  • 4%Who alone are peace and freedom to the river and the stream, Only another winding will this stream make, only another murmur in this glade, And then shall I come to you, a boundless drop to a boundless ocean.
  • 5%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?
  • 10%For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
  • 12%When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
  • 15%Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
  • 19%It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
  • 24%When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
  • 26%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.
  • 28%Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
  • 30%Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
  • 30%Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
  • 33%Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.
  • 35%And when his work was done he laughed in the forest. Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean.
  • 36%It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth that you shall find abundance and be satisfied. Yet unless the exchange be in love and kindly justice, it will but lead some to greed and others to hunger.
  • 38%It is when your spirit goes wandering upon the wind, That you, alone and unguarded, commit a wrong unto others and therefore unto yourself.
  • 39%the ocean is your god-self; It remains for ever undefiled. And like the ether it lifts but the winged. Even like the sun is your god-self;
  • 43%What penalty lay you upon him who slays in the flesh yet is himself slain in the spirit?
  • 44%And that the corner-stone of the temple is not higher than the lowest stone in its foundation.
  • 44%You delight in laying down laws, Yet you delight more in breaking them. children playing by the ocean who build sand-towers with constancy and then destroy them with laughter.
  • 51%For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
  • 53%Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
  • 54%Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights. But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
  • 56%The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.
  • 56%The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.
  • 58%Your friend is your needs answered. He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
  • 59%And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
  • 60%You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts; And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.
  • 62%Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness, And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.
  • 67%You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance. For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether?
  • 70%Pleasure is a freedom-song, But it is not freedom. It is the blossoming of your desires, But it is not their fruit.
  • 73%And your body is the harp of your soul, And it is yours to bring forth sweet music from it or confused sounds.
  • 77%People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face. But you are life and you are the veil. Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. But you are eternity and you are the mirror.
  • 78%All your hours are wings that beat through space from self to self. He who wears his morality but as his best garment were better naked.
  • 79%Your daily life is your temple and your religion. Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.
  • 80%You would know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
  • 81%If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
  • 94%You are not enclosed within your bodies, nor confined to houses or fields. That which is you dwells above the mountain and roves with the wind.