Tuesday Poem: ‘On Children’ by Kahlil Gibran

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On Children

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.

Kahlil Gibran was a Lebanese artist and writer who, as a young man, immigrated with his family to the United States. This poem comes from his 1923 book, The Prophet. I heard Sarb Johal read this poem on Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan (thanks Pip Adam for suggesting the listen). The segment was about mindful parenting, and Johal, an Associate Professor of Psychology, cut into the conversation to read the poem. It was unexpected, and it made me a little teary “For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.” The picture at the top is of Sam, my intrepid son, striding off into the Botanical Gardens.

For more Tuesday Poems check out the hub.

2 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: ‘On Children’ by Kahlil Gibran

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