Kahlil Gibran’s Little Book of Life (Red Wheel/Weiser LLC, 2018) compiled by Neil Douglas-Klotz follows the diverse interpretations of the word “life” in middle eastern languages and specifically Gibran’s works. Douglas-Klotz imitates the paradoxical contrast in Gibran’s poetic style by selecting and arranging the little book with balance and inclusion of lesser known sayings. The following excerpt is a poem written in 1926 and is a viewpoint of American immigration.
I believe in you, and I believe in your
I believe that you are contributors to this new
I believe that you have inherited from your
ancestors an ancient dream, a song, a prophecy, which you can proudly lay as a gift of
gratitude upon the lap of America.
I believe you can say to the founders of this
great nation, “Here I am, a youth, a young tree whose roots were plucked from the hills of
Lebanon, yet I am deeply rooted here, and I would be fruitful.”
And I believe that you can say to Abraham
Lincoln, the blessed, “Jesus of Nazareth touched your lips when you spoke, and guided
your hand when you wrote. And I shall uphold all that you have said and all that you
I believe that you can say to Emerson and Whit-
man and James, “In my veins runs the blood of the poets and wise men of old, and it is
my desire to come to you and receive, but I shall not come with empty hands.”
I believe that even as your ancestors came to
this land to produce riches, you were born here to produce riches by intelligence, by
And I believe that it is in you to be good
And what is it to be a good citizen?
It is to acknowledge the other person’s rights
before asserting your own, but always to be
conscious of your own.
It is to be free in thought and deed, but it is to
know that your freedom is subject to the
other person’s freedom.
It is to create the useful and the beautiful with
your own hands, and to admire what others
have created in love and with faith.
It is to produce wealth by labor and only by
labor, and to spend less than you have produced, so that your children may not be
dependent on the state for support when you are no more.
It is to stand before the towers of New York,
Washington, Chicago, and San Francisco saying in your heart, “I am the descendant of a
people that built Damascus and Byblos, and Tyre and Sidon and Antioch, and now I am
here to build with you, and with a will.”
It is to be proud of being an American, but
it is also to be proud that your fathers and mothers came from a land upon which God laid
his gracious hand and raised his messengers.
Young Americans of Syrian origin, I believe
Reprinted with permission from Red Wheel/Weiser LLC, Kahlil Gibran’s Little Book of Life by Neil Douglas-Klotz is available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher at 1-800-423-7087 or firstname.lastname@example.org.