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ON WORK

By: KAHLIL GIBRAN


(1883-1831)
About the Author: KAHLIL
GIBRAN
The Blake of the 20th
century
Excelled both in
poetry and painting
Born in Lebanon
Known for writing his
best-known book
The Prophet
As a young man, he emigrated with his family to the United States
where he studied art and began his literary career
In the Arab world, Gibran is regarded as a literary and political
rebel.
His romantic style was at the heart of a renaissance in modern
Arabic literature, especially prose poetry, breaking away from the
classical school
Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare
and Lao-Tzu
ON WORK
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons,
and to step out of life's procession, that marches in majesty and proud
submission towards the infinite.

When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the
hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together
in unison?

Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth's furthest dream,
assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life's inmost secret.

But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a
curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of
your brow shall wash away that which is written.
You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo
what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one
another, and to God.

And what is it to work with love?


It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead
are standing about you and watching.
Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, "He who works in marble,
and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who
ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is
more than he who makes the sandals for our feet."
But I say, not in sleep but in the overwakefulness of noontide, that the wind
speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades
of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made
sweeter by his own loving.
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you
should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of
those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but
half man's hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in
the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's
ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.
POEM ANALYSIS
On Work is one of the 26 poetic essays in the book The
Prophet written by Khalil Gibran.
The book, published in 1923, is about the prophet Almustafa,
who has lived in the foreign city of Orphalese for 12 years.
He was about to board a ship which will carry him home when
he was stopped by a group of people with whom he discusses
copious issues on life and the human condition.
The essence of the literary piece seeks for us to step outside
of our own perspective to see things in the way that life
should be lived.
The writer has sublimely and majestically endowed each line
with the inert spirituality and wisdom that every poetic piece
needs to survive.
The words are so emotionally moving and passionately
powerful that it tends to create a serene, delicate and
beautiful feeling of ones existence in this intricate world.
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the
earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step
out of lifes procession, that marches in majesty and proud
submission towards the infinite.
When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering
of the hours turns tomusic.Which of you would be a reed, dumb and
silent, when all else sings together in unison?
Gibran mentions of the the earth and the soul of the earth
which pertains to the self-sustaining world that we live in.
And that pace of the earth is to exist, to live and survive.
The poem speaks about unity and accord, that every aspect of
human labor is collective in nature.
One can never achieve a goal without having the help of his
peers or his co-workers. Humans are social beings attributed
to its immense population and relative responsibility of
sustaining the needs of its race. In order to survive, every
human being must work in unanimity. In the aspect of labor,
productivity depends on the harmony of social structures
within a system.
Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour
a misfortune.But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of
earths furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was
born,And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving
life,And to love life through labour is to be intimate with lifes inmost
secret
But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the
flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but
the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.
A common misconception of work and labour is that it is
always associated with hardship and physical stress. But to the
author, that misconception greatly depends on the
perspective of the worker.
In a spiritual sense, the author mentions of a dream which
can be translated as ones purpose of existence. He said that
if one is keeping himself with labour, then he is in truth loving
life which will therefore fulfill the purpose of his
existence
Work therefore is an amount of effort applied to produce a
deliverable or to accomplish a task, not a state of burden or
misfortune. And when one bears fruit of his own labor then
one shall acquire his own alleviation.
You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your
weariness you echo what was said by the weary.And I say that
life is indeed darkness save when there is urge, And all urge is
blind save when there is knowledge, And all knowledge is vain
save when there is work, And all work is empty save when
there is love; And when you work with love you bind yourself to
yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love? It is to weave the cloth with
threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to
wear that cloth. It is to build a house with affection, even as if
your beloved were to dwell in that house. It is to sow seeds
with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your
beloved were to eat the fruit. It is to charge all things you
fashion with a breath of your own spirit, And to know that all
the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.
Gibran conceivably implicated the most benign interactions of
expression in this stanza where he contemplated the importance of
urge, knowledge, and love in ones work.
When one works with love one attaches himself to himself, and to
others, and to God.
We all live in a spiritual, quasi-philosophical world that we always
tend to struggle for justification for our actions. We need a source
of strength for our entire physical and spiritual skirmish with life,
and Gibran explains; we can achieve this if we bind our existence to
ourselves, to others and to God.
The verse further explains symbolical relationships on the nature of
ones purpose of labor. That one must put all his commitment and
dedication on his work as if the outcome of his physical labor; the
cloth that he weaved, the house he built, the seeds he had sown and
harvest, will all be for his beloved.
Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, He who works in
marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler
than he who ploughs the soil.And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it
on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the
sandals for our feet.But I say, not in sleep but in the
overwakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly
to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;And he
alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made
sweeter by his own loving.
Gibran attempts to define the state of equivalence of men in
all labor. He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his
own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil.
He further explained that this realization only exists in sleep
or in a whimsical state of human thoughts, an actual
misconception.
He then turns to define greatness as when one who can turn
the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own
loving.
When a writer creates a masterpiece by committing himself to
his work to help others to understand earns as much success
as when an inventor produces a machine that alleviates the
welfare of people. Work will be defined by the greatness of
its worker not by its own greatness.
Work is love made visible.And if you cannot work with love but
only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work
and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who
work withjoy.For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake
a bitter bread that feeds but half manshunger.And if you
grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison
in the wine.And if you sing though as angels, and love not the
singing, you muffle mans ears to the voices of the day and the
voices of the night.
The prophet Almustafa, ends the poetic discussion on work that was
started by a ploughman, by saying Work is love made visible
The only way to conceive and produce a good result of work or labor is
when one puts his heart into it. Loving ones work is one of the greatest
contentment a human being could ever feel. No one else could define
this feeling not unless he commits himself into it. By showing dedication,
enthusiasm, devotion and loyalty, ones physical work would bring peace
and contentment to himself, to his family and to the people around him.

These are words to live by. Gibrans words are refreshingly nonsectarian
yet feel none the less profound, timeless, universal and relevant to all
cultures, peoples and times. The profoundness of his truth is not gleaned
until the words are read many times.
Gibran teaches us to celebrate life no matter what the circumstance is.
We need to work in order to live. And as what he said, Work is love
made visible just intricately suggest that to work is to love.