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On the children by khalil gibran On Children by Kahlil Gibran Your children are not...

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ds6 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 5, 2013 at 11:56 PM via

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On the children by khalil gibran

On Children

by Kahlil Gibran

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 may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

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.



a. why the writer believes children "are not your children" but "the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself"?


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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 6, 2013 at 5:07 PM (Answer #1)

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The overriding idea in Gibran's poem is that of the part in which Divine Providence plays in people lives.  If one considers the words that apply to people's having children--procreaction, reproduction--the idea of man's part only being secondary in the lives of children is clearly denoted.  The mother's womb is the vessel in which the life of another is formed; however, as the poet's metaphor expresses, the parents are the "bows" from which the "arrows" are sent. In another author's work, a character of Taylor Caldwell remarks that children are little strangers who live with a you for a while, and then go out into the world; that is, into "Life's longing for itself," as Gibran writes.

Children do, indeed, belong to "tomorrow"; their visions are different from that of the previous generation. And, while parents can impart some wisdom and provide children with values, the "arrows" of Providence are guided more by Him who is eternal.  But, parents must release their children to the future with "gladness" because they are at least instrumental in the guidance of their offspring, being the "bows."


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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 6, 2013 at 9:48 PM (Answer #2)

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Whenever you think about paraphrasing a text into more modern language, consider putting the words also into a more modern context as well.  In the final stansa Gibran uses the metaphor of bow and arrow, which has a more archaic feel to it, since most modern people may not understand the mechanics of archery.  As you paraphrase his words, think about substituting the archery metaphor for something more modern, like a car and a bridge or road. 

As for the creating the rap for children, I would use the same sort of guidelines as provided above.  The extended metaphor of archery might be confusing to younger readers, so substitute a metaphor that children would understand.

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