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.
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.