Born of Maronite parents and baptized Gibran Kahlil Gibran (joob-RAHN)—his name was later shortened—the oldest child of Kahlil Gibran and his wife Kamila Rahme spent his childhood in an isolated village beneath Mount Lebanon. His childhood left him with few material comforts and little formal education, but it did provide him a rich spiritual heritage. Gibran’s work bears the influence of legends and biblical stories handed down for generations in the scenic lands near the ancient Cedars of Lebanon.
Seeking a better future, the family, except for the father, emigrated to Boston in June of 1895, joining relatives in a tenement in South Boston, Massachusetts. His mother sold lace to support her four children and opened a small dry-goods store; she died when Gibran turned twenty.
Gibran’s life changed when Florence Pierce, a settlement-house art teacher, noticed his artistic skills. With Jessie Fremont Beale, a philanthropist, she introduced Gibran to Fred Holland Day, a Boston art patron, art photographer, and patron of literature and the fine arts. Day used Gibran and his brother and sisters as models, and in 1898 Day helped Gibran return to Beirut to study Arabic literature at the Madrasat Al-Hikmat (the school of wisdom), founded by Maronite bishop Joseph Debs. After graduation, he traveled in Syria and Lebanon, visiting historic places. On his return to Boston in April of 1902, two of his sisters and his half-brother died from...
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