The Prophet ~ Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

(Khalil Gibran)

babe (noun): baby
bosom (noun): chest
longing (noun): keen desire
strive (verb): try very hard
tarry (verb): wait; delay leaving
bow (noun): a weapon for shooting arrows (made from a curved piece of wood)
arrow (noun): a long rod with a sharp point that flies through the air after leaving the bow
archer (noun): a person who shoots an arrow with a bow
swift (adverb): fast
stable (adjective): firm, not moving

Question: Why are “He” and “His” written with capital letters?

Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), was a Lebanese American artist, poet and writer. He was born in modern day Lebanon and emigrated to the United States as a young man. He is most famous for The Prophet, a book of 26 poetic essays that he wrote in English, first published in 1923 and since translated into more than 40 languages. “Children” is the third of the 26 essays and one of my favourite pieces of writing, which is why I have included it here.

[This work is in the public domain in countries where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 75 years or fewer.]

By Josef Essberger for EnglishClub September 2010
Josef started teaching English as a foreign language in 1991 and founded EnglishClub for learners and teachers in 1997.


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