(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Gibran was invited to Beirut to participate in a ceremony honoring the Lebanese poet Kahlil Effandi Mutran. Unable to attend the celebration, he sent this short story to be read on his behalf. In the letter Gibran included with the story, he said that the “devilish muses” inspired this prose and that its length was short when compared with “the dignity of the great prince and outstanding poet.”

Gibran believed in reincarnation for the purpose of completing tasks left undone by the person’s death. “The Poet from Baalbek” provides a clear example of this belief. Part 1 is set in the city of Baalbek, 112 b.c.e. The emir is saddened by the death of a beloved poet. A sage from India comforts the emir with these words, “Remember . . . that the sacred Law which restores the sublimity of Spring after the passing of Winter will reinstate you a prince and him a genius poet.”

The setting for part 2 is Cairo, Egypt, and the year is 1912. A pensive prince asks his companion to recite some poetry. When the prince hears poetry that speaks to his soul, he asks who wrote the verses. The reply is, “the poet from Baalbek.” Upon hearing this, the prince remembers words spoken long ago by Mohammed: “You were dead and He brought you back to life, and He will return you to the dead and then restore you to life. Whereupon you shall go back to him.” The prince decides that this poet must be honored because “he...

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The Poet from Baalbek Bibliography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Acocella, Joan. “Prophet Motive: The Kahlil Gibran Phenomenon.” The New Yorker 83, no. 42 (January 7, 2008): 72.

Bushrui, Suheil, and Joe Jenkins. Man and Poet: A New Biography. Boston: Oneworld, 1998.

Gibran, Jean. Kahlil Gibran: His Life and World. Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1974.

Gougassian, Joseph P. Kahlil Gibran: Wings of Thought. New York: Philosophical Library, 1973.

Naimy, Mikhail. Kahlil Gibran: A Biography. New York: Philosophical Library, 1985.

Nash, Geoffrey. The Arab Writer in English: Arab Themes in a Metropolitan Language, 1908-1958. Portland, Oreg.: Sussex Academic Press, 1998.

Waterfield, Robin. Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

Young, Barbara. This Man from Lebanon: A Study of Kahlil Gibran. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945.