The gold-hoarder walked in his palace park and with him
walked his troubles. And over his head hovered worries as a
vulture hovers over a carcass, until he reached a beautiful
lake surrounded by magnificent marble statuary.
He sat there pondering the water which poured from the mouths
of the statues like thoughts flowing freely from a lover's
imagination, and contemplating heavily his palace which stood
upon a knoll like a birth-mark upon the cheek of a maiden. His
fancy revealed to him the pages of his life's drama which he
read with falling tears that veiled his eyes and prevented
him from viewing man's feeble additions to Nature.
He looked back with piercing regret to the images of his early
life, woven into pattern by the gods, until he could no longer
control his anguish. He said aloud, "Yesterday I was grazing
my sheep in the green valley, enjoying my existence, sounding
my flute, and holding my head high. Today I am a prisoner of
greed. Gold leads into gold, then into restlessness and finally
into crushing misery.
"Yesterday I was like a singing bird, soaring freely here and
there in the fields. Today I am a slave to fickle wealth,
society's rules, and city's customs, and purchased friends,
pleasing the people by conforming to the strange and narrow
laws of man. I was born to be free and enjoy the bounty of
life, but I find myself like a beast of burden so heavily
laden with gold that his back is breaking.
"Where are the spacious plains, the singing brooks, the pure
breeze, the closeness of Nature? Where is my deity? I have lost
all! Naught remains save loneliness that saddens me, gold that
ridicules me, slaves who curse to my back, and a palace that I
have erected as a tomb for my happiness, and in whose greatness
I have lost my heart.
"Yesterday I roamed the prairies and the hills together with
the Bedouin's daughter; Virtue was our companion, Love our
delight, and the moon our guardian. Today I am among women
with shallow beauty who sell themselves for gold and diamonds.
"Yesterday I was carefree, sharing with the shepherds all the
joy of life; eating, playing, working, singing, and dancing
together to the music of the heart's truth. Today I find
myself among the people like a frightened lamb among the
wolves. As I walk in the roads, they gaze at me with hateful
eyes and point at me with scorn and jealousy, and as I steal
through the park I see frowning faces all about me.
"Yesterday I was rich in happiness and today I am poor in
"Yesterday I was a happy shepherd looking upon his head as
a merciful king looks with pleasure upon his contented subjects.
Today I am a slave standing before my wealth, my wealth which
robbed me of the beauty of life I once knew.
"Forgive me, my Judge! I did not know that riches would put my
life in fragments and lead me into the dungeons of harshness
and stupidity. What I thought was glory is naught but an eternal
He gathered himself wearily and walked slowly toward the palace,
sighing and repeating, "Is this what people call wealth? Is this
the god I am serving and worshipping? Is this what I seek of the
earth? Why can I not trade it for one particle of contentment?
Who would sell me one beautiful thought for a ton of gold? Who
would give me one moment of love for a handful of gems? Who
would grant me an eye that can see others' hearts, and take
all my coffers in barter?"
As he reached the palace gates he turned and looked toward the
city as Jeremiad gazed toward Jerusalem. He raised his arms
in woeful lament and shouted, "Oh people of the noisome city,
who are living in darkness, hastening toward misery, preaching
falsehood, and speaking with stupidity...until when shall you
remain ignorant? Unit when shall you abide in the filth of life
and continue to desert its gardens? Why wear you tattered robes
of narrowness while the silk raiment of Nature's beauty is
fashioned for you? The lamp of wisdom is dimming; it is time
to furnish it with oil. The house of true fortune is being
destroyed; it is time to rebuild it and guard it. The thieves
of ignorance have stolen the treasure of your peace; it is time
to retake it!"
At that moment a poor man stood before him and stretched forth
his hand for alms. As he looked at the beggar, his lips parted,
his eyes brightened with a softness, and his face radiated
kindness. It was as if the yesterday he had lamented by the
lake had come to greet him. He embraced the pauper with affection
and filled his hands with gold, and with a voice sincere with
the sweetness of love he said, "Come back tomorrow and bring
with you your fellow sufferers. All your possessions will be
He entered his palace saying, "Everything in life is good; even
gold, for it teaches a lesson. Money is like a stringed instrument;
he who does not know how to use it properly will hear only discordant
music. Money is like love; it kills slowly and painfully the one
who withholds it, and it enlivens the other who turns it upon
his fellow man."
Copyright @ Kahlil Gibran.