This is a poem by Kahlil Gibran (1883 – 1931) who was born in Lebanon, was the grandson of a priest and raised in poverty. His mother brought him at age 12 and his siblings to Boston’s South End at the time the second-largest Syrian-Lebanese-American community in the United States. His mother began working as a seamstress peddler, selling lace and linens that she carried from door to door. He went to the Josiah Quincy school, back to Lebanon for three years, traveled the world eventually settling in the United States but always firmly attached to his homeland.
I was given this poem from his book The Prophet called “On Children” when my first child was born. It is something every parent should receive with the birth of their first child.
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
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.