On Work_Khalil Gibran

Then a ploughman said, Speak to us of Work.

And he answered, saying:

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 turn 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


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


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 than 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

grudges 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.