The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran: A Cult Classic Wedding Read

“ The Prophet” is a book by Lebanese-American poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran who was born in 1883. The renown of “ The Prophet” is still cult-like and excerpts are often quoted at weddings.

In pursuing the theory that the basis for a good marriage is friendship, it is worth looking at what Gibran wrote “On Friendship”. This poem is not about romantic love but it is about an intimate, enduring bond integral to marriage and platonic relationships equally. The distinction between casual friendships and the friendship which defines a real union is that the former is better described as “ friendliness”, general in nature; it is not a bond. But the friendship which evolves through marriage is a bond between souls – a bond in a good way (be advised of Gibran’s best-known poem, which tells us not to make a bond of love!)

Choosing excerpts of “ On Friendship” would work at your wedding: to have the whole piece read is perhaps too philosophical - it is after all marriage that you’re pinning down.

Here it is:

“Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

Less philosophical but no less true is this charming piece from the Yueh-Fu genre of folk ballads passed down during the Han Dynasty from 206 BC.

This simple little poem, “ I want to be your Friend” says it all:

“I want to be your friend
For ever and ever.
When the hills are all flat
And the rivers are all dry,
When the trees blossom in winter
And the snow falls in summer,
When heaven and earth mix –
Not till then will I part from you.”

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