The Arabian Nights by Andrew Lang (free at Feedbooks) is a collection/re-telling of ancient Arabian stories. Perhaps most famous of the many stories is that of Aladdin, which let me tell you, is NOTHING like the Disney movie we all know and love. Of course it’s still lovely and culturally significant and everything, but do NOT expect some sweet story about a princess demanding her right to marry for love, or a cuddly fez-wearing monkey, or Robin Williams as genie.
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran (free at Feedbooks) is a beautiful, short piece consisting of 26 poems about various subjects. The prophet al-Mustafa is about to board a ship to return to his homeland after twelve years. But it seems he has had a great effect on the people of Orphalese, as they ask him for one last time to speak to them of life. It’s all very beautifully told:
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;For love is sufficient unto love. When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.” And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.
You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts; And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime. And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered. For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.
Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing. Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness, And knows that yesterday is but to-day’s memory and to-morrow is to-day’s dream.