AP Analysis – On Reason and Passion by Khalil Gibran

On Reason and Passion

And the priestess spoke again and said: Speak to us of Reason and Passion.

And he answered, saying:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite. Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house. Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows — then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”
And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky — then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.”
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.

One might argue that through the implementation of diction, imagery, and personification in Kahlil Gibran’s “On Reason and Passion,”  the harmonious nature of reason and passion implies their necessity in transforming the “discord of one’s elements” into “oneness and melody.”

As a result of Gibran’s strategic placement of diction within this piece, the pathos of the audience is both triggered and everlasting. To be more specific, by employing the phrase “let your heart say in silence: ‘God rests in reason’ ” the reader recognizes that their heart is of concern, and it solely speaks of a timeless figure: God. This incites feelings of importance within the reader, as they are not discussing what one may call a trivial matter, but rather an ethereal being. Hence an atmosphere of perfection and purity is created through the implementation of such diction. Therein, this idea of perfection causes one to believe that if their heart is linked to God, their elements are as well, and so the “discord of such elements” becomes a nonexistent possibility; for if the heart of a man is linked to God, how can discord exist? That being said, the reader recognizes the logos of the piece after the initial pathos incited by the diction “heart” and  “God.” This skillful weaving of logos (overall argument presented above) and pathos (specific diction – heart, God), heightens the impact of the piece as a whole. All in all, the diction inspires an atmosphere of purity, therein juxtaposing the “discord of elements” within oneself, and indirectly allowing the reader to find comfort in the fact that if God is with you, if he occupies your mind, “oneness and melody” will be an eventual consequence.

Furthermore, the knowledge that one is “let[ting]” their heart speak in silence holds an undertone of freedom, for when you let something commence, you are allowing it the freedom to act on its own will. In this case, one is allowing their heart to speak in regards to a being beyond their wildest comprehension. Therefore, the diction creates an atmosphere of freedom and awe, which Gibran mirror’s again in the following: “let your heart say in awe, ‘God moves in passion.’ ” Here, one must recognize that passion is paired with awe, whereas reason was paired with silence. Verbalizing either situation (awe or silence) would take away from the elusive nature of reason and passion. To be more specific, both originate from the heart; therein, it does not require a language t express emotion and love. That is part of its beauty, and that is what is being exemplified through this diction. Ultimately, this idea also supports the “oneness” of one’s elements, for allowing one’s heart to feel the movement of God demands inner peace; it demands “oneness and melody.” Consequently, one’s logos once again serves prisoner to the effectiveness of the diction within this piece. One might go as far as to say that it highlights the silver lining of reason and passion, and the necessity of them in allowing one’s heart to beat in peace.

Moving on, the imagery near the end of this peace juxtaposes the nature of reason and passion in the most eloquent of ways. For instance, reason is associated with “the cool shade of the white poplars,” immediately inciting peace and calm within the reader. However, passion is associated with “the mighty wind shak[ing] the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim[ing] the majesty of the sky.” This incites an exhilaration of sorts. It puts the reader on edge with a fierce excitement. Both situations quoted are the very definition of the reason and passion, however the unity and harmonious nature of both come into play when the imagery of the “mighty wind” and “white poplars” are combined: “You are…a leaf in God’s forest.” That being said, leaves follow the current of the wind from the branches of trees. Therefore, we move with passion and rest in reason. As on can see, the imagery allows for a unity like no other between reason and passion. It solids their nature, their purpose, and their dependence on one another.

Lastly, the personification presented in this piece reflects the value of reason and passion. Both elements are compared to “two loved house guests in your home.” Such an analogy exemplifies that reason and passion must be cared for. They are one’s guests; they are temporary if not properly cared for. Furthermore, if one treats reason over passion or vice versa, there is injustice between the two guests, enticing the other to leave. The idea of a guest leaving is put in a negative light by Gibran, as it would prevent the oneness of one’s elements. Lastly, thorough this personification Gibran touches on the temporary aspect of not only our lives, but also the discord of our elements. For if reason and passion are guests, they must at one point in time leave, and that only happens when one leaves this world. Therefore, the personification as a whole represents hope; if one is struggling with harmonizing reason and passion, they must be knowledgable of the fact that the “discord of [their] elements” will not last forever. There will come a day when these “guests” will live in harmony with one another, or in other words, there will come a day where you will give them equal importance.

Khalil Gibran expertly integrates the necessity of harmonizing reason and passion within oneself through the diction, imagery, and personification present within his piece “On Reason and Passion.” He consistently weaves in the necessity of turning the “discord of one’s elements” to “oneness and melody” by stressing the importance of both reason and passion within one’s life. In his humble opinion, to live in tranquility is to find a balance between the wind that pushes you and the forest that surrounds you. One must know that their passion will push them in different directions, but they must also know that running into a tree in the forest they are surrounded by, solely on the word of passion, is not a logical approach.

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