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Recorded for Poem-a-Day February 10, 2019.
About this Poem 

“On Joy and Sorrow” was published in The Prophet (Knopf, 1923).

On Joy and Sorrow

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
     And he answered:
     Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
     And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
     And how else can it be?
     The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
     Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
     And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
     When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
     When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
    
     Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
     But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
     Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

     Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
     Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
     When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran, author of The Prophet, was born January 6, 1883, in Bsharri, Lebanon.

by this poet

poem
And a youth said, Speak to us of Friendship.
     And he answered, saying:
     Your friend is your needs answered.
     He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
     And he is your board and your fireside.
     For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
poem
Then a mason came forth and said, Speak to us of Houses.
     And he answered and said:
     Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls.
     For even as you have home-comings in your twilight, so has the wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone.
     Your
poem
Defeat, my Defeat, my solitude and my aloofness;
You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs,
And sweeter to my heart than all world-glory.
 
Defeat, my Defeat, my self-knowledge and my defiance,
Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot