Treasure Island

Khalil Gibran

(January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931 / Bsharri)

Freedom XIV


And an orator said, "Speak to us of Freedom."

And he answered:

At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,

Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.

Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.

And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,

But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.

And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?

In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes.

And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free?

If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead.

You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them.

And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed.

For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their won pride?

And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you.

And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.

Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.

These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling.

And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.

And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

Do you like this poem?
1 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: freedom, fear, grief, city, pride, light, truth, sea, sun, lost, rose

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Freedom XIV by Khalil Gibran )

Enter the verification code :

  • Séamas Ó Súilleabháin (1/11/2010 10:07:00 PM)

    One can employ these words in overcoming personal struggles.
    Our own inferiorities, weakness and assumed flaws.

    At times, I find the likes of Whitman and Gibran to be presented as doctrines as opposed to poetry. (Report) Reply

  • Cecilia Nicoletti (10/12/2009 11:48:00 AM)

    yes, these are wise words...eyes opener-
    this century needs such readings.
    we live times of blindness and stupidity.
    spiritual alienation its worse of jails.
    cause a blind soul could never be free. (Report) Reply

  • Ejaz Khan (5/20/2009 3:20:00 PM)

    Why speak the words of wisdom to the deaf? Why give pearls to the one. who is blind to the truth? And yet you did your best, to ignite the sparks in us, thanks for trying. May your spirit rest in peace, for ever more, if you're not already here again, witnessing that ignorance persist. (Report) Reply

Read all 3 comments »

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. Invictus
    William Ernest Henley

New Poems

  1. The Night That Comes only Once, Akhtar Jawad
  2. The Goldsmith, Mario,Lucien,Rene Odekerken
  3. বাঁকা চোখে দেখো নাকো, Dr. Prabir Acharjee Nayan
  4. Cronyism, Tony Adah
  5. A Poppy Seed is Only A Poppy Seed and You?, Monk E. Biz
  6. Look At Me Straight, Dr. Prabir Acharjee Nayan
  7. SELF DISCOVERY 10 WORD, Beryl Dov
  8. The Child and Rain, Pranab K. Chakraborty
  9. LOVE IS..., Beryl Dov
  10. Baltic nights, Mario,Lucien,Rene Odekerken

Poem of the Day

poet Helen Hunt Jackson

The month of carnival of all the year,
When Nature lets the wild earth go its way,
And spend whole seasons on a single day.
The spring-time holds her white and purple dear;
...... Read complete »

   
[Hata Bildir]