By Kahlil Gibran

You ask me how I became a madman.  It happened thus:  One day, long

before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all

my masks were stolen,–the seven masks I have fashioned an worn in

seven lives,–I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting,

“Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.”

Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear

of me.

And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top

cried, “He is a madman.”  I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed

my own naked face for the first time.  For the first time the sun

kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for

the sun, and I wanted my masks no more.  And as if in a trance I

cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.”

Thus I became a madman.

And I have found both freedom of loneliness and the safety from

being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in


But let me not be too proud of my safety.  Even a Thief in a jail

is safe from another thief.