Kahlil Gibran: Beauty, Love & Woman — The Prophetic Meaning of Life

“Love is a word of light,
written by a hand of light,
upon a page of light. “

“From a sensitive woman’s heart springs the happiness of mankind,
and from the kindness of her noble spirit comes mankind’s affection.”

“When a man’s hand touches the hand of a woman
they both touch the heart of eternity.”

Love will be my sole comforter, and I shall drink love like wine and wear it like garment. At dawn, Love will wake me from slumber and take me to the distant field, and at noon will lead me to the shadows of trees, where I will find shelter with the birds from the heat of the sun. In the evening, it will cause me to pause before sunset to hear nature’s farewell song to the light of day and will show me ghostly clouds sailing in the sky. At night, Love will embrace me, and I shall sleep, dreaming of the heavenly world where the spirits of lovers and poets abide.

Life without Love is like a tree without blossom and fruit. And love without Beauty is like flowers without scent and fruits without seeds… Life, Love, and Beauty are three persons in one, who cannot be separated or changed. Love is the only freedom in the world because it so elevates the spirit that the laws of humanity and the phenomena of nature do not alter its course. God has given you a spirit with wings on which to soar into the spacious firmament of Love and Freedom.

But what human being is he who has never sipped the wine from the cup of love, and what spirit is it that has never stood reverently before that lighted altar in the temple whose pavement is the hearts of men and women and whose ceiling is the secret canopy of dreams? What flower is that on whose leaves the dawn has never poured a drop of dew; what streamlet is that which lost its course without going to the sea?

Love is wine served by the brides of Dawn which strengthens strong souls and enables them to ascend to the stars. Love is a divine knowledge that enables men to see as much as the gods.

In one night, in one hour, in one moment of time, the Spirit descended from the center of the circle of divine light and looked at me with your heart’s eyes. From that glance Love was born, and found a dwelling in my heart.

A woman’s heart… that throbbing heart which is like a bird flying in the spacious sky of love… It is like a vase replenished with the wine of the ages that has been pressed for the sipping souls… It is like a book in whose pages one reads the chapters of happiness and misery, joy and pain, laughter and sorrow. No one can read this book except the true companion who is the other half of the woman, created for her since the beginning of the world. A woman’s heart will change with time or season; even if it dies eternally, it will never perish. A woman’s heart is like a field turned into a battleground; after the trees are uprooted and the grass is burned and the rocks are reddened with blood and the earth is planted with bones and skulls, it is calm and silent as if nothing has happened; for the spring and autumn come at their intervals and resume their work.

For the first time she experienced the feeling which made her heart like a white rose that sips the dew drops from the dawn and breathes its fragrance into the endless firmament.

The poets and writers are trying to understand the reality of woman, but up to this day they have not understood the hidden secrets of her heart, because they look upon her from behind the sexual veil and see nothing but externals; they look upon her through the magnifying glass of hatefulness and find nothing except weakness and submission.

A woman is to a nation as light is to a lamp.
Will not the light be dim if the oil in the lamp is low?

A woman whom Providence has provided with beauty of spirit and body is a truth, at the same time both open and secret, which we can understand only by love, and touch only by virtue; and when we attempt to describe such a woman she disappears like vapor. Her beauty is like a dream of revelation which cannot be measured or bound or copied by the brush of a painter or the chisel of a sculptor.

Selma’s beauty was not in her golden hair, but in the virtue of purity which surrounded it; not in her large eyes, but in the light which emanated from them; not in her red lips, but in the sweetness of her words; not in her ivory neck, but in its slight bow to the front. Nor was it in her perfect figure, but in the nobility of her spirit, burning like a white torch between earth and sky. Her beauty was like a gift of poetry.

A woman’s happiness does not come through man’s glory and honor, nor through his generosity and affection, but through love that unites both of their hearts and affections, making them one member of life’s body and one word upon the lips of God.

In her white silk dress, Selma was slender as a ray of moonlight coming through the window. She walked gracefully and rhythmically. Her voice was low and sweet; words fell from her lips like drops of dew falling from the petals of flowers when they are disturbed by the wind.

It is wrong to think that love comes from long companionship and persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a moment, it will not be created for years or even generations. Through the spirit not the body love must be shown. 

We were both silent, each waiting for the other to speak, but speech is not the only means of understanding between two souls. It is not the syllables that come from the lips and tongues that bring hearts together.

Miserable is the man who loves a woman and takes her for a wife, pouring at her feet the sweat of his skin and the blood of his body and the life of his heart, and placing in her hands the fruit of his toil and the revenue of his diligence; for when he slowly wakes up, he finds that the heart, which he endeavored to buy, is given away freely and in sincerity to another man for the enjoyment of its hidden secrets and deepest love. Miserable is the woman who arises from the inattentiveness and restlessness of youth and finds herself in the home of a man showering her with his glittering gold and precious gifts and according her all the honors and grace of lavish entertainment but unable to satisfy her soul with the heavenly wine which God pours from the eyes of a man into the heart of a woman.

Her hand was still on my head as she spoke, and I would not have preferred a royal crown or a wreath of glory to that beautiful smooth hand whose fingers were twined in my hair.

Marriage is the union of two divinities that a third might be born on earth. It is the union of two souls in a strong love for the abolishment of separateness. It is that higher unity which fuses the separate unities within the two spirits. It is the golden ring in a chain whose beginning is a glance, and whose ending is Eternity. It is the pure rain that falls from an unblemished sky to fructify and bless the fields of divine Nature.

Limited love asks for possession of the beloved, but the unlimited asks only for itself. Love that comes between the naiveté and awakening of youth satisfies itself with possessing, and grows with embraces. But Love which is born in the firmament’s lap and has descended with the night’s secrets is not contended with anything but Eternity and immortality; it does not stand reverently before anything except deity.

An eternal hunger for love and beauty is my desire. I know now that those who possess bounty alone are naught but miserable, but to my spirit the sighs of lovers are more soothing than music of the lyre. 

The First Look… It is that moment that divides the intoxication of Life from the awakening. It is the first flame that lights up the inner domain of the heart. It is the first magic note plucked on the silver string of the heart. It is that brief moment that unfolds before the soul the chronicles of time, and reveals to the eyes the deeds of the night, and the works of conscience. It opens Eternity’s secrets of the future. It is the seed cast by Ishtar, goddess of Love, and sown by the eyes of the beloved in the field of Love, brought forth by affection, and reaped by the Soul.

My twin heart whom I sought here and did not find. Then death, the angel with winged feet, came and led my longing to her longing, and I lived with her in the very heart of God. And I became nearer to her and she to me, and we were one. We were a sphere that shines in the sun; and we were a song among the stars. 

The First Kiss… It is the first sim from the cup filled by the goddess with the nectar of Life. It is the dividing line between Doubt that beguiles the spirit and saddens the heart, and Certitude that floods the inner self with joy. It is the beginning of the song of Life and the first act in the drama of the Ideal Man. It is the bond that unites the strangeness of the past with the brightness of the future; the link between the silence of the feelings and their song. It is a word uttered by four lips proclaiming the heart a throne, Love a king, and fidelity a crown. It is the gentle touch of the delicate fingers of the breeze on the lips of the rose — uttering a long sigh of relief and a sweet moan.

Like a devoted worshiper who receives his blessing by kissing the altar in a shrine, I took Selma’s hand, placed my burning lips on it, and gave it a long kiss, the memory of which melts my heart and awakens by its sweetness all the virtue of my spirit.

Beauty is that which attracts your soul, and that which loves to give and not to receive. When you meet Beauty, you feel that the hands deep within your inner self are stretched forth to bring her into the domain of your heart. It is a magnificence combined of sorrow and joy; it is the Unseen which you see, and the Vague which you understand, and the Mute which you hear — it is the Holy of Holies that begins in yourself and ends vastly beyond your earthly imagination.

I will make my soul an envelope for your soul, and my heart a residence for your beauty and my breast a grave for your sorrows. I shall love you as the prairies love the spring, and I shall live in you in the life of a flower under the sun’s rays. I shall sing your name as the valley sings the echo of the bells of the village churches; I shall listen to the language of your soul as the shore listens to the story of the waves. I shall remember you as a stranger remembers his beloved country, and as a hungry man remembers a banquet, and as a dethroned king remembers the days of his glory, and as a prisoner remembers the hours of ease and freedom. I shall remember you as a sower remembers the bundles of wheat on his threshing flour, and as a shepherd remembers the green prairies and the sweet brooks.

Only our spirits can understand beauty, or live and grow with it. It puzzles our minds; we are unable to describe it in words; it is a sensation that our eyes cannot see, derived from both the one who observes and the one who is looked upon. Real beauty is a ray which emanates from the holy of holies of the spirit, and illuminates the body, as life comes from the depths of the earth and gives color and scent to a flower.

Beauty has its own heavenly language, loftier than the voices of tongues and lips. It is a timeless language, common to all humanity, a calm lake that attracts the singing rivulets to its depth and makes them silent.

Real beauty lies in the spiritual accord that is called love which can exist between a man and a woman.

“I was deeply engrossed in thought and contemplation and seeking to understand the meaning of nature and the revelation of books and scriptures when I heard LOVE whispered into my ears through Selma’s lips. My life was a coma, empty like that of Adam’s in Paradise, when I saw Selma standing before me like a column of light. She was the Eve of my heart who filled it with secrets and wonders and made me understand the meaning of life.”

“She became a book whose pages I could understand
and whose praises I could sing,
but which I could never finish reading.”

“Sow a seed and the earth will yield you a flower.
Dream your dream to the sky and it will bring you your beloved.”


~Kahlil Gibran was a Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist, also considered a philosopher although he himself rejected the title.

Excerpts from The Broken Wings, Secrets of the Heart, Vision, The Garden of The Prophet, Madame Rose Hanie, The Words of the Master, The Prophet, Resurrection, Before the Throne of Beauty, Sand and Foam, Lazarus and his Beloved, At the Door of the Temple.

©Excellence Reporter 2021

Categories: Love, Wisdom of Life

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