Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Joy And Sorrow - Chrysanthemums for La Toussaint...

In many parts of the world, the first of November marks All Saints' Day. To remember those no longer here at La Toussaint, here in France it is customary to mark their passing with pots of elaborate chrysanthemum flowers. These seem to me to be a perfect celebration of Life, although the association with Death itself means that many French consider the chrysanthemum to have morbid connotations. Such beautiful flowers just fill me with joy, even more so since the weather is generally cold at this time of year and the evenings have drawn in. They are simply bursts of light and warmth.

Whilst considering the subject of Life and Death, here is the poem Joy And Sorrow by Gibran Khalil Gibran.

Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow." 
And he answered: 
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. 
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. 
And how else can it be? 

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. 
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? 
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? 

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. 

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. 

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater." 
But I say unto you, they are inseparable. 
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. 

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. 
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced. 

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Joy And Sorrow Chapter VIII - Gibran Khalil Gibran - Lebanese poet and painter et peintre libanais, 1883-1931


  1. Thank you for such a beautiful post.BEAUTiful photos and words.I have read some of Gibran Khalil Gibran's poems but not that one.

  2. Thank you for your comment! Gibran's poems really are beautiful, aren't they? I love 'On Children', but there are many others to discover. Strange that we don't seem to hear a great deal about his work, or his life.
    Those chrysanthemums are just so lovely, to look at and touch, and they fit into cupped hands perfectly. They just seem to be so much more than a flower, with those weird feathery forms, all ruffled up, or clustered up tight. Here's a line from Gibran's 'On Self-Knowledge'....
    The soul unfolds itself like a lotus of countless petals.


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