Saturday, 15 July 2017

EVENSONG "On Children" Temple University Women"s Chorus, directed by Christine C....


I knew these words long before I heard them set to music and they changed my life;   from Kahlil Gilbran's The Prophet,  they are part of a set of Sufi beatitudes, answers given to questions asked of the Prophet; Speak to us on Children, they said and this was his reply:

Your children are not your children, 
they are the sons and the daughters of Life's longing for itself.........

I think I first heard this setting - an extract - by Sweet Honey In The Rock, a 1980s, black, right-on, feminist, issues-driven a capella group;
 anything of Grievance or Lamentation, they'd run-up an arrangement, record it and tour it.
Ah, but we were all so much older then. 
 I don't know who these performers are and they are not terribly good but I find this non-showbiz version much more agreeable.







 

On Children

by Kahlil Gibran
 
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.

8 comments:

Caratacus said...

I was introduced to Khalil Gibran many years ago by a German girlfriend who was terribly well-meaning, other-worldly and possessed of a fearsome self-confidence which usually manifested itself in hours long analyses of my many shortcomings from a Jungian standpoint; so I hope you will understand that I still view Mr. Gibran's writings with something of a cautious eye. Yes, there are undoubted truths in his writings but I feel that nowhere near enough credit is given to his benefactress Mrs. Mary Haskell who, I suspect, was at least the co-author of much of his English stuff. And, of course, the source of funds which provided the buckets of booze which ultimately killed him.

But beyond the logically wobbly bit about anyone being able to live in the future as opposed to the present (the interface between the past, which has gone, and the future, which is yet to be) this piece is one of his best and the archery analogy rings particularly true for me.

Bungalow Bill said...

Beautiful thanks, Mr I, and apposite, of course.

Reminded me of this from goalkeeper and philosopher, Albert Camus:

“At this moment, when each of us must fit an arrow to his bow and enter the lists anew, to
reconquer, within history and in spite of it, that which he owns already, the thin yield of his fields, the
brief love of this earth, at this moment when at last a man is born, it is time to forsake our age and its
adolescent furies. The bow bends; the wood complains. At the moment of supreme tension, there will leap
into flight an unswerving arrow, a shaft that is inflexible and free.”

I doubt it, but it's a noble thought. Bows and arrows.

call me ishmael said...

It was just that one line, which so changed my way of thinking, king caratacus: your children are not your children.....though they are with you, they belong not to you; the rest could easily translate into any set of holy scriptures or even profound drama, Polonius, for instance, his speech to Laertes, bound for England but that rejection of Parental Ownership hit me like a ton of bricks.

Thank you very much for your memoir, as is often the case, the readers here are better versed in my truthsthan I.

call me ishmael said...

Certainly apposite, mr bungalow bill and although it is what it is I would just like to tweak their performance a bit, too late, now.

There are others here who have also spoken wisely of archery, it is a heady metaphor, either in the massed ranks of Anglo-Welsh longbowmen at Agincourt or in the Zen of Doctor Suzuki and his effortless Art. Never having pulled a bowstring I know I am missing something important.

I like those Camus lines, I had forgotten how good he could be.

There is an Incredible String Band piece, The Mad Hatter's Song, which although less lyrically polished than either Camus of Gilbran plucks at the same eternal chord but against their usual eclectic musical backdrop of riffs, reels'n'ragas and thus sparkles:

"I am the Archer, the lover of laughter, and mine is the arrowed flight, I am the Archer and my eyes yearn after the unsullied sight......" The music redeems lines and thoughts otherwise clumsy and derivative and the song contains Ishmaelia's most oft quoted ISB phrase: And if you cried, you know you'd fill a lake with tears.....
In my humble imho it is worth ten minutes attention from anyone clutching for the slipstream.

call me ishmael said...

I will ree-surch Mrs Haskell, king caratacus.

Bungalow Bill said...

Do what you can, live till you die.

Lovely again, thanks.

call me ishmael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
call me ishmael said...

Sometimes, mr bungalow bill, reading you, on early sacred music or mr tdg on Wagner or mr mike on ballet or.....I could go on and on, everyone knows more than I .... sometimes I wish I had only ever listened to what we term serious music, and then, as the late Chuck Berry sang, sometimes I do, then again, I think I don't. The songs of the Incredible String Band make me smile like nothing else and I think I would walk over Byrd and Tallis; Monteverdi and Pallestrina; Bach and Handel; Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven to reach the Hangman's Beautiful Daughter.