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On Giving -- Kahlil Gibran

Guest poem sent in by Neville Clemens
(Poem #1750) On Giving
 There are those who give little of the much which they have - and they
 give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts

 And there are those who have little and give it all.

 These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their
 coffer is never empty.

 There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.

 And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.

 And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they
 seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;

 They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.

 Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their
 eyes He smiles upon the earth.
-- Kahlil Gibran
I came across this excerpt form Gibran's 'The Prophet' when I was about 13,
courtesy of my father who had it put up on our living room wall. I loved it
then, and as the years have gone by I've grown to love it even more as I
begin to be more aware of and experience the interplay of emotions involved
in simple acts of my life. Gibran forces us to take a harder look at Giving,
forces us to look past fruitive motives for our actions, at a place where
there exists such a thing as a Selfless Deed, stripped clean of ANY reaction
- pure, simple and childlike to grasp....and yet something we struggle with.

"They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space."

THAT, to me, is the clinching line of the poem; the line that holds it all
together and gently pours the poet's wisdom over the reader.


1. This is part of a larger passage on Giving in 'The Prophet', but this is
the portion that I came across as a child. Since it seems to me to be a
plenary excerpt and since I am biased towards shorter poems I'd like to
submit just this passage. The entire passage can be read here:

2. The poet's first name is spelt as Khalil as well as Kahlil. However, the
former spelling does more justice to the pronunciation. The first syllable
is a 'kha', pronounced thickly from the throat - as anyone familiar with
Urdu or Arabic would know. The 'G' in the last name is pronounced as in
Germany. The source of this is a Lebanese friend of mine (Gibran was
Lebanese, so I assume he was right!). I'm only adding this because for
years I'd always mumble his name in conversations to avoid being caught with
a mispronunciation :-). To sum up : kha-leel jib-raan

3. An extensive biography of this Lebanese poet and artist (a la Blake) is
available at:

   [broken link]


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