AND now it was evening.
And Almitra the seeress said, Blessed be
this day and this place and your spirit that
And he answered, Was it I who spoke?
Was I not also a listener?
Then he descended the steps of the Tem-
ple and all the people followed him. And he
reached his ship and stood upon the deck.
And facing the people again, he raised his
voice and said:
People of Orphalese, the wind bids me
Less hasty am I than the wind, yet I
We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier
way, begin no day where we have ended
another day; and no sunrise finds us where
sunset left us.
Even while the earth sleeps we travel.
We are the seeds of the tenacious plant,
and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of
heart that we are given to the wind and are
Brief were my days among you, and
briefer still the words I have spoken.
But should my voice fade in your ears,
and my love vanish in your memory, then
I will come again,
And with a richer heart and lips more
yielding to the spirit will I speak.
Yea, I shall return with the tide,
And though death may hide me, and the
greater silence enfold me, yet again will I
seek your understanding.
And not in vain will I seek.
If aught I have said is truth, that truth
shall reveal itself in a clearer voice, and in
words more kin to your thoughts.
I go with the wind, people of Orphalese,
but not down into emptiness;
And if this day is not a fulfillment of
your needs and my love, then let it be a
promise till another day.
Man’s needs change, but not his love, nor
his desire that his love should satisfy his
Know therefore, that from the greater si-
lence I shall return.
The mist that drifts away at dawn, leaving
but dew in the fields, shall rise and gather
into a cloud and then fall down in rain.
And not unlike the mist have I been.
In the stillness of the night I have walked
in your streets, and my spirit has entered
And your heart-beats were in my heart,
and your breath was upon my face, and I
knew you all.
Ay, I knew your joy and your pain, and
in your sleep your dreams were my dreams.
And oftentimes I was among you a lake
among the mountains.
I mirrored the summits in you and the
bending slopes, and even the passing flocks
of your thoughts and your desires.
And to my silence came the laughter of
your children in streams, and the longing of
your youths in rivers.
And when they reached my depth the
streams and the rivers ceased not yet to
But sweeter still than laughter and greater
than longing came to me.
It was boundless in you;
The vast man in whom you are all but
cells and sinews;
He in whose chant all your singing is but
a soundless throbbing.
It is in the vast man that you are vast,
And in beholding him that I beheld you
and loved you.
For what distances can love reach that are
not in that vast sphere?
What visions, what expectations and what
presumptions can outsoar that flight?
Like a giant oak tree covered with apple
blossoms is the vast man in you.
His might binds you to the earth, his
fragrance lifts you into space, and in his
durability you are deathless.
You have been told that, even like a chain,
you are as weak as your weakest link.
This is but half the truth. You are also
as strong as your strongest link.
To measure you by your smallest deed is
to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty
of its foam.
To judge you by your failures is to cast
blame upon the seasons for their inconsistency.
Ay, you are like an ocean,
And though heavy-grounded ships await
the tide upon your shores, yet, even like an
ocean, you cannot hasten your tides.
And like the seasons you are also,
And though in your winter you deny
Yet spring, reposing within you, smiles in
her drowsiness and is not offended.
Think not I say these things in order
that you may say the one to the other, “He
praised us well. He saw but the good in
I only speak to you in words of that
which you yourselves know in thought.
And what is word knowledge but a
shadow of wordless knowledge?
Your thoughts and my words are waves
from a sealed memory that keeps records of
And of the ancient days when the earth
knew not us nor herself,
And of nights when earth was upwrought
Wise men have come to you to give you
of their wisdom. I came to take of your
And behold I have found that which is
greater than wisdom.
It is a flame spirit in you ever gathering
more of itself,
While you, heedless of its expansion, be-
wail the withering of your days.
It is life in quest of life in bodies that fear
There are no graves here.
These mountains and plains are a cradle
and a stepping-stone.
Whenever you pass by the field where you
have laid your ancestors look well there-
upon, and you shall see yourselves and your
children dancing hand in hand.
Verily you often make merry without
Others have come to you to whom for
golden promises made unto your faith you
have given but riches and power and glory.
Less than a promise have I given, and yet
more generous have you been to me.
You have given me deeper thirsting after life.
Surely there is no greater gift to a man
than that which turns all his aims into
parching lips and all life into a fountain.
And in this lies my honour and my re-
That whenever I come to the fountain to
drink I find the living water itself thirsty;
And it drinks me while I drink it.
Some of you have deemed me proud and
over-shy to receive gifts.
To proud indeed am I to receive wages,
but not gifts.
And though I have eaten berries among
the hill when you would have had me sit
at your board,
And slept in the portico of the temple
where you would gladly have sheltered
Yet was it not your loving mindfulness
of my days and my nights that made food
sweet to my mouth and girdled my sleep
For this I bless you most:
You give much and know not that you
give at all.
Verily the kindness that gazes upon it-
self in a mirror turns to stone,
And a good deed that calls itself by ten-
der names becomes the parent to a curse.
And some of you have called me aloof,
and drunk with my own aloneness,
And you have said, “He holds council with
the trees of the forest, but not with men.
He sits alone on hill-tops and looks down
upon our city.”
True it is that I have climbed the hills
and walked in remote places.
How could I have seen you save from a
great height or a great distance?
How can one be indeed near unless he
And others among you called unto me,
not in words, and they said,
“Stranger, stranger, lover of unreachable
heights, why dwell you among the summits
where eagles build their nests?
Why seek you the unattainable?
What storms would you trap in your net,
And what vaporous birds do you hunt in
Come and be one of us.
Descend and appease your hunger with
our bread and quench your thirst with our
In the solitude of their souls they said
But were their solitude deeper they would
have known that I sought but the secret of
your joy and your pain,
And I hunted only your larger selves
that walk the sky.
But the hunter was also the hunted;
For many of my arrows left my bow only
to seek my own breast.
And the flier was also the creeper;
For when my wings were spread in the sun
their shadow upon the earth was a turtle.
And I the believer was also the doubter;
For often have I put my finger in my own
wound that I might have the greater belief in
you and the greater knowledge of you.
And it is with this belief and this knowl-
edge that I say,
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.
It is not a thing that crawls into the sun
for warmth or digs holes into darkness for
But a thing free, a spirit that envelops the
earth and moves in the ether.
If this be vague words, then seek not to
Vague and nebulous is the beginning of
all things, but not their end,
And I fain would have you remember me
as a beginning.
Life, and all that lives, is conceived in the
mist and not in the crystal.
And who knows but a crystal is mist in
This would I have you remember in re-
That which seems most feeble and be-
wildered in you is the strongest and most
Is it not your breath that has erected and
hardened the structure of your bones?
And is it not a dream which none of you
remember having dreamt that building your
city and fashioned all there is in it?
Could you but see the tides of that breath
you would cease to see all else,
And if you could hear the whispering of
the dream you would hear no other sound.
But you do not see, nor do you hear, and
it is well.
The veil that clouds your eyes shall be
lifted by the hands that wove it,
And the clay that fills your ears shall be
pierced by those fingers that kneaded it.
And you shall see
And you shall hear.
Yet you shall not deplore having known
blindness, nor regret having been deaf.
For in that day you shall know the hidden
purposes in all things,
And you shall bless darkness as you
would bless light.
After saying these things he looked about
him, and he saw the pilot of his ship stand-
ing by the helm and gazing now at the full
sails and now at the distance.
And he said:
Patient, over-patient, is the captain of my
The wind blows, and restless are the sails;
Even the rudder begs direction;
Yet quietly my captain awaits my silence.
And these my mariners, who have heard
the choir of the greater sea, they too have
heard me patiently.
Now they shall wait no longer.
I am ready.
The stream has reached the sea, and
once more the great mother holds her son
against her breast.
Fare you well, people of Orphalese.
This day has ended.
It is closing upon us even as the water
-lily upon its own tomorrow.
What was given us here we shall keep,
And if it suffices not, then again must we
come together and together stretch our hands
unto the giver.
Forget not that I shall come back to you.
A little while, and my longing shall gather
dust and foam for another body.
A little while, a moment of rest upon the
wind, and another woman shall bear me.
Farewell to you and the youth I have
spent with you.
It was but yesterday we met in a dream.
You have sung to me in my aloneness,
and I of your longings have built a tower
in the sky.
But now our sleep has fled and our dream
is over, and it is no longer dawn.
The noontide is upon us and our half
waking has turned to fuller day, and we
If in the twilight of memory we should
meet once more, we shall speak again to-
gether and you shall sing to me a deeper
And if our hands should meet in another
dream, we shall build another tower in the
So saying he made a signal to the seamen,
and straightaway they weighed anchor and
cast the ship loose from its moorings, and
they moved eastward.
And a cry came from the people as from
a single heart, and it rose the dusk and
was carried out over the sea like a great
Only Almitra was silent, gazing after the
ship until it had vanished into the mist.
And when all the people were dispersed
she still stood alone upon the sea-wall, re-
membering in her heart his saying,
“A little while, a moment of rest upon the
wind, and another woman shall bear me.”
-excerpt from The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran.