[Fis] The Greater Sea by Kahlil Gibran

Pedro C. Marijuan pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es
Thu Nov 25 14:29:07 CET 2021

[ for a nicer format see: 
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/55373/the-greater-sea  ]

  The Greater Sea

Kahlil Gibran <https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/kahlil-gibran>

My soul and I went to the great sea to bathe.  And when we reached the 
shore, we went about looking for a hidden and lonely place.

But as we walked, we saw a man sitting on a grey rock taking pinches of 
salt from a bag and throwing them into the sea.
“This is the pessimist,” said my soul, “Let us leave this place. We 
cannot bathe here.”

We walked on until we reached an inlet.  There we saw, standing on a 
white rock, a man holding a bejeweled box, from which he took sugar and 
threw it into the sea.
“And this is the optimist,” said my soul, “And he too must not see our 
naked bodies.”

Further on we walked.  And on a beach we saw a man picking up dead fish 
and tenderly putting them back into the water.
“And we cannot bathe before him,” said my soul.  “He is the humane 
philanthropist.” And we passed on.

Then we came where we saw a man tracing his shadow on the sand. Great 
waves came and erased it.  But he went on tracing it again and again.
“He is the mystic,” said my soul, “Let us leave him.”

And we walked on, till in a quiet cover we saw a man scooping up the 
foam and putting it into an alabaster bowl.
“He is the idealist,” said my soul, “Surely he must not see our nudity.”

And on we walked.  Suddenly we heard a voice crying, “This is the sea.  
This is the deep sea.  This is the vast and mighty sea.”
And when we reached the voice it was a man whose back was turned to the 
sea, and at his ear he held a shell, listening to its murmur.
And my soul said, “Let us pass on.  He is the realist, who turns his 
back on the whole he cannot grasp, and busies himself with a fragment.”

So we passed on.  And in a weedy place among the rocks was a man with 
his head buried in the sand.  And I said to my soul, “We can bath here, 
for he cannot see us.”
“Nay,” said my soul, “For he is the most deadly of them all.  He is the 

Then a great sadness came over the face of my soul, and into her voice.
“Let us go hence,” she said, “For there is no lonely, hidden place where 
we can bathe.
I would not have this wind lift my golden hair, or bare my white bosom 
in this air, or let the light disclose my sacred nakedness.”

Then we left that sea to seek the Greater Sea.


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