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WE  and  YOU

Kahlil Gibran
1883 - 1931


We are the sons of Sorrow, and you are the

Sons of Joy.  We are the sons of Sorrow,

And Sorrow is the shadow of a God who

Lives not in the domain of evil hearts.

We are sorrowful spirits, and Sorrow is

Too great to exist in small hearts.

When you laugh, we cry and lament; and he

Who is seared and cleansed once with his

Own tears will remain pure forevermore.

You understand us not, but we offer our

Sympathy to you. You are racing with the

Current of the River of Life, and you

Do not look upon us; but we are sitting by

The coast, watching you and hearing your

Strange voices.

You do not comprehend our cry, for the

Clamour of the days is crowding your ears,

Blocked with the hard substance of your

Years of indifference to truth; but we hear

Your songs, for the whispering of the night

Has opened our inner hearts. We see you

Standing under the pointing finger of light,

But you cannot see us, for we are tarrying

In the enlightening darkness.

We are the sons of Sorrow; we are the poets

And the prophets and the musicians. We weave

Raiment for the goddess from the threads of

Our hearts, and we fill the hands, of the

Angels with the seeds of our inner selves.

You are the sons of the pursuit of earthly

Gaiety. You place your hearts in the hands

Of Emptiness, for the hand's touch to

Emptiness is smooth and inviting.

You reside in the house of Ignorance, for

In his house there is no mirror in which to

View your souls.

We sigh, and from our sighs arise the

Whispering of flowers and the rustling of

Leaves and the murmur of rivulets.

When you ridicule us your taunts mingle

With the crushing of the skulls and the

Rattling of shackles and the wailing of the

Abyss. When we cry, our tears fall into the

Heart of Life, as dew drops fall from the

Eyes of Night into the heart of Dawn; and

When you laugh, your mocking laughter pours

Down like the viper's venom into a wound.

We cry, and sympathize with the miserable

Wanderer and distressed widow; but you rejoice

And smile at the sight of resplendent gold.

We cry, for we listen to the moaning of the

Poor and the grieving of the oppressed weak;

But you laugh, for you hear naught but the

Happy sound of the wine goblets.

We cry, for our spirits are at the moment

Separated from God; but you laugh, for your

Bodies cling with unconcern to the earth.

We are the sons of Sorrow, and you are the

Sons of Joy . . . Let us measure the outcome of

Our sorrow against the deeds of your joy

Before the face of the Sun . . .

You have built the Pyramids upon the hearts

Of slaves, but the Pyramids stand now upon

The sand, commemorating to the Ages our

Immortality and your evanescence.

You have built Babylon upon the bones of the

Weak, and erected the palaces of Nineveh upon

The graves of the miserable.  Babylon is now but

The footprint of the camel upon the moving sand

Of the desert, and its history is repeated

To the nations who bless us and curse you.

We have carved Ishtar from solid marble,

And made it to quiver in its solidity and

Speak through its muteness.

We have composed and played the soothing

Song of Nahawand upon the strings, and caused

The Beloved's spirit to come hovering in the

Firmament near to us; we have praised the

Supreme Being with words and deeds; the words

Became as the words of God, and the deeds

Became overwhelming love of the angels.

You are following Amusement, whose sharp claws

Have torn thousands of martyrs in the arenas

Of Rome and Antioch  . . .  But we are following

Silence, whose careful fingers have woven the

Iliad and the Book of Job and the Lamentations

Of Jeremiah.

You lie down with Lust, whose tempest has

Swept one thousand processions of the soul of

Woman away and into the pit of shame and

Horror . . . But we embrace Solitude, in whose

Shadow the beauties of Hamlet and Dante arose.

You curry for the favor of Greed, and the sharp

Swords of Greed have shed one thousand rivers

Of blood   . . .  But we seek company with Truth,

And the hands of Truth have brought down

Knowledge from the Great Heart of the Circle

Of Light.

We are the sons of Sorrow, and you are the

Sons of Joy; and between our sorrow and your

Joy there is a rough and narrow path which

Your spirited horses cannot travel, and upon

Which your magnificent carriages cannot pass.

We pity your smallness as you hate our

Greatness; and between our pity and your

Hatred, Time halts bewildered. We come to

You as friends, but you attack us as enemies;

And between our friendship and your enmity,

There is a deep ravine flowing with tears

And blood.

We build palaces for you, and you dig graves

For us; and between the beauty of the palace

And the obscurity of the grave, Humanity

Walks as a sentry with iron weapons.

We spread your path with roses, and you cover

Our beds with thorns; and between the roses

And the thorns, Truth slumbers fitfully.

Since the beginning of the world you have

fought against our gentle power with your

Coarse weakness; and when you triumph over

Us for an hour, you croak and clamour merrily

Like the frogs of the water. And when we

Conquer you and subdue you for an Age, we

Remain as silent giants.

You crucified Jesus and stood below Him,

Blaspheming and mocking at Him; but at last

He came down and overcame the generations,

And walked among you as a hero, filling the

Universe with His glory and His beauty.

You poisoned Socrates and stoned Paul and

Destroyed Ali Talib and assassinated

Madhat Pasha, and yet those immortals are

With us forever before the face of Eternity.

But you live in the memory of man like

Corpses upon the face of the earth; and you

Cannot fine a friend who will bury you in

The obscurity of non-existence and oblivion,

Which you sought on earth.

We are the sons of Sorrow, and sorrow is a

Rich cloud, showering the multitudes with

Knowledge and Truth. You are the sons of

Joy, and as high as your joy may reach,

By the Law of God it must be destroyed

Before the winds of heaven and dispersed

Into nothingness, for it is naught but a

Thin and wavering pillar of smoke.


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