The idea of reason and passion waging war within me has been a prevalent theme in the past few months of my life. So, when two students in class created a beautiful poetry seminar revolving around the topic I have been battling with internally for so long, I couldn’t help but fall in love with a poem unlike anything I’ve read before.
“Reason and Passion” by Khalil Gibran is a piece that first establishes a profound insight to the root of these two aspects in one’s life through the line, “Your reason and passion are the rudder and the daily of your seafaring soul”. This really intrigued me because I had always thought of reason being associated with the mind and passion being associated with the heart, instead of the two coming from a more spiritual and connected place. Furthermore, tying this to the religious theme in the poem, I have been brought up to believe the soul is the closest thing we humans have to our Creator. I think about it like a string connecting us to a higher power and our bodies holding us down to the Earth. One could argue that Gibran is exemplifying the idea that reason and passion will ultimately guide one’s soul in their destination to reach God in the last stanza of his poem, where he finishes with “And since you are a breath in God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.”
Another beautiful choice from Gibran in this poem was to use the imagery of nature and the elements to portray his ideas. I think the reason his words have such an impact on me is that he juxtaposes water and fire by relating the wandering of one’s soul to traveling through the sea and passion to a “flame that burns to its own destruction”. Moreover, he describes the unity of reason and passion as sitting in the shade of white poplar trees while gazing at distant hills, fields, and meadows. This image was enough for me to long for this type of serenity and peace with oneself, to look at reason and passion as the peacemakers rather than at war with each other.
In relation to my own life, we had the opportunity to write an emulation of this breathtaking piece after our analysis. The following shows my writing style combined with pieces from the poem that impacted me.
passion, unattended, is a flame
that burns to its own destruction
with cravings of the soul and
hunger of the body,
i cannot control my wandering eyes
nor my searching fingertips
without rhyme or reason
i follow a path of fire,
waiting for its soft kisses
to cover me inside out
and i relish in the haunting pain
my heart secretly desires
i did not understand
how empty it was
living in black and white
when there was a world of red
i have always been
how strange it is
to allow myself
to be the lover.