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One of his most notable lines of poetry in the English-speaking world is from 'Sand and Foam' (1926), which reads : 'Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you'.
And Almustafa was silent, and he looked away towards the hills and toward the vast ether, and there was a battle in his silence. Then he said: "My friends and my road-fellows, pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
"Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own winepress.
"Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.
"Pity the nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in its awakening.
"Pity the nation that raisesnot its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except when its neck is laid between the sword and the block. "Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggle, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.
"Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpetings, and farewells him with hootings, only to welcome another with trumpetings again.
"Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.
"Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation."
Then a priestess said, "Speak to us of Prayer." And he answered, saying: You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance. For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether? And if it is for your comfort to pour your darkness into space, it is also for your delight to pour forth the dawning of your heart.
And if you cannot but weep when your soul summons you to prayer, she should spur you again and yet again, though weeping, until you shall come laughing.
When you pray you rise to meet in the air those who are praying at that very hour, and whom save in prayer you may not meet. Therefore let your visit to that temple invisible be for naught but ecstasy and sweet communion. For if you should enter the temple for no other purpose than asking you shall not receive.
And if you should enter into it to humble yourself you shall not be lifted: Or even if you should enter into it to beg for the good of others you shall not be heard.
It is enough that you enter the temple invisible.
I cannot teach you how to pray in words.
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 house is your larger body. It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream? And dreaming, leave the city for grove or hilltop? Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow. Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments. But these things are not yet to be. In their fear your forefathers gathered you too near together. And that fear shall endure a little longer. A little longer shall your city walls separate your hearths from your fields.
And tell me, people of Orphalese, what have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors? Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power? Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind? Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain? Tell me, have you these in your houses?
Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and becomes a host, and then a master? Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires. Though its hands are silken, its heart is of iron. It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your bed and jeer at the dignity of the flesh. It makes mock of your sound senses, and lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels.
Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral. But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.
Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast. It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye.
You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down. You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living.
In my father's garden there are two cages. In one is a lion, which my father's slaves brought from the desert of Ninavah; in the other is a songless sparrow. Every day at dawn the sparrow calls to the lion, "Good morrow to thee, brother prisoner."
God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods, hear me: Gentle Destiny that watchest over us, mad, wandering spirits, hear me: I dwell in the midst of a perfect race, I the most imperfect.
I, a human chaos, a nebula of confused elements, I move amongst finished worlds -- peoples of complete laws and pure order, whose thoughts are assorted, whose dreams are arranged, and whose visions are enrolled and registered.
Their virtues, O God, are measured, their sins are weighed, and even the countless things that pass in the dim twilight of neither sin nor virtue are recorded and catalogued.
Here days and nights are divided into seasons of conduct and governed by rules of blameless accuracy. To eat, to drink, to sleep, to cover one's nudity, and then to be weary in due time. To work, to play, to sing, to dance, and then to lie still when the clock strikes the hour. To think thus, to feel thus much, and then to cease thinking and feeling when a certain star rises above yonder horizon.
To rob a neighbour with a smile, to bestow gifts with a graceful wave of the hand, to praise prudently, to blame cautiously, to destroy a soul with a word, to burn a body with a breath, and then to wash the hands when the day's work is done.
To love according to an established order, to entertain one's best self in a pre-conceived manner, to worship the gods becomingly, to intrigue the devils artfully -- and then to forget all as though memory were dead.
To fancy with a motive, to contemplate with consideration, to be happy sweetly, to suffer nobly -- and then to empty the cup so that tomorrow may fill it again.
All these things, O God, are conceived with forethought, born with determination, nursed with exactness, governed by rules, directed by reason, and then slain and buried after a prescribed method. And even their silent graves that lie within the human soul are marked and numbered.
It is a perfect world, a world of consummate excellence, a world of supreme wonders, the ripest fruit in God's garden, the master-thought of the universe.
But why should I be here, O God, I a green seed of unfulfilled passion, a mad tempest that seeketh neither east nor west, a bewildered fragment from a burnt planet? Why am I here, O God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods?
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 are the bows from which your children, as living arrows,
are sent forth
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