Khalil Gibran – ‘your joy is your sorrow unmasked’

Khalil Gibran, the Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist, wrote The Prophet, one of the best-selling books of all time, translated into more than 100 languages which became celebrated by the counter-culture and New Age movements in the 1960s. Elvis had a copy, John Lennon, Johnny Cash and David Bowie all used his philosophical poetic thoughts.

 Gibran’s life has been described as one “caught between Nietzschean rebellion, Blakean pantheism and Sufi mysticism.” He was born 6 January 1883 4am Bsharri, Lebanon into a Maronite Christian family and spent part of his childhood in the USA. He suffered ill health throughout a good deal of his life.

  What is surprising about his chart for such a reflective individual is how weighted down it is with Earth signs. He had a Capricorn Sun which can be highly creative, the stander on the threshold between the realm of ideas and the real world. It was conjunct Mars in Capricorn with Mercury at the far end of Capricorn. His Sun was trine Uranus and trine Neptune, South Node and Saturn in Taurus. His Mercury trine Uranus was trine Pluto in Taurus. Neptune conjunct Saturn is also a creative combination as is Uranus trine Neptune.

His Fire Sagittarius Moon Venus would lighten his temperament marginally as would an unaspected Jupiter in Gemini. Tierney says of an unaspected Jupiter: “Even if intensely philosophical  his self-containment suggests he is a loner in his search for higher meaning and ultimate truth. His vision could be very unique because of it.”

  He left behind memorably insightful musings on the human condition.



“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.


When love beckons to you, follow him,

     Though his ways are hard and steep.

     And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

     Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

     And when he speaks to you believe in him,

     Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

     For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.


Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses

your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its

heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.


Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the self-same well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

7 thoughts on “Khalil Gibran – ‘your joy is your sorrow unmasked’

  1. Regular meditation on Gibran’s words is good medicine for the soul, I’ve found. That he was a Capricorn didn’t surprise me as I’d heard a world-weariness in most of his wisdoms.

  2. Thank you Marjorie,

    I actually discovered the Prophet during the summer of love 1967 – many of us were reading the Prophet and quoting from it…I still have a copy on my bookshelf and use some of his insights in my work, Khalil Gibran’s beautiful words still resonate with me today as they did then.

    Thank you

  3. Hi Majorie – can you look at the chart of tennis player Simona Haley who has just been given a 4 year drug ban. Many think it is an unfair decision and she has been the victim of a failed system.

  4. I read The Prophet by Khalili Gibran back in 2007 when a friend of mine recommended it to me. I’m an avid reader and I’m eclectic when it comes to books and literary genres but I’ve never been a big fan of poetry. However, I made an exception for Gibran and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his works.

  5. I am so happy that you have been quoting KG.
    I went out and bought his book of poetry. The last time I absorbed every word he wrote into my DNA, was when I was an active member of the 60s counter culture. So thank you very much.
    I read your column every day!!

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