Poetry Sunday: Fear by Khalil Gibran

Khalil Gibran was a Lebanese-American writer and visual artist. He was deemed by others to be a philosopher, although he himself rejected the title. He was born in Lebanon in 1883 and died in New York in 1931, a relatively short life of 48 years. He accomplished a lot in the few years that he had including writing The Prophet, which is one of the best-selling books of all time, having been translated into over a hundred languages. He was a poet and his poetry shows his philosophical bent. This one is a good example of that.


by Khalil Gibran

It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear.

She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

But there is no other way.
The river can not go back.

Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.

The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
but of becoming the ocean.


  1. He truly was talented. I like how this poem can have two different meanings. To me at least. One is about death and the other about not letting fear hold you back from something great.

    1. I think you've interpreted the poet's meaning perfectly.

  2. I love Khalil Gibran's poetry! This one is especially nice. I could read it over and over. :)

  3. What a beautiful poem. One day, we all will find the truth about death. As for fear, I think enough of us fear dying more than death, but also fear living. I agree with your commenter pointing out the two meanings of this poem.

  4. I don't really know his poetry--this is lovely--all I've read of his is The Prophet. He may not have thought himself a philosopher, but he was nevertheless wise!

    1. That wisdom shines through in all of his writing, I think.

  5. i've heard/read (w/o verification)that he was a hopeless alcoholic, but i've liked some of his verses nevertheless...

    1. I recall reading something to that effect also. It's actually somewhat remarkable that many famous writers seem to have had that problem. Maybe it goes with the territory?

  6. It's a classic illustration of how the most profound emotions, those that gnaw away at us even, can be captured so eloquently in a few simple words.

  7. A very wise poem. Fear is the emotion we are always told to set aside. We don't do a very good job with that, though.

    1. It is an emotion that has been fundamental to our survival as a species, so, yes, it's very hard to put it aside.

  8. I'm not too familiar with his poetry but I do like the one you've shared. It's beautiful. The message about not holding back because of fear is my biggest takeaway, but I can also see what Carrie means about it also possibly relating to death. Thank you for sharing!

    1. I dip into his poetry from time to time and almost always find something there that moves me.


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