Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 649
Kahlil Gibran was a poet and writer whose works dealt mostly with philosophical and spiritual matters. He wrote in both Arabic and English and is said to be the third most read poet in the world. In his home country of Lebanon, he is regarded as a literary hero. As...
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Kahlil Gibran was a poet and writer whose works dealt mostly with philosophical and spiritual matters. He wrote in both Arabic and English and is said to be the third most read poet in the world. In his home country of Lebanon, he is regarded as a literary hero. As Gibran states,
Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness.
Gibran was brought up a Christian, but in his book The Prophet he states a love for all religions.
I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.
Love and the meaning of love plays an important part in his work. Gibran never married; his long time friend and benefactor Mary Haskell turned him down a number of times. From this perspective, the following quote is particularly poignant.
If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don't, they never were.
One wonders if his love for Mary was one of the main reasons he never married.
When love beckons to you follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden. For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth......
Kahlil was born in Lebanon and immigrated with his family to America in 1895. After his father's death in 1909, he spent most of his time in New York. However, he never forgot his home country and continued to write poems in Arabic as well as English.
You have your Lebanon and its dilemma. I have my Lebanon and its beauty. Your Lebanon is an arena for men from the West and men from the East. My Lebanon is a flock of birds fluttering in the early morning as shepherds lead their sheep into the meadow and rising in the evening as farmers return from their fields and vineyards. You have your Lebanon and its people. I have my Lebanon and its people.
As you can see, in his view there are two Lebanons: the beautiful Lebanon he remembers and the compromised country that he feels Lebanon is becoming.
What will remain of your Lebanon after a century? Tell me! Except bragging, lying and stupidity? Do you expect the ages to keep in its memory the traces of deceit and cheating and hypocrisy? Do you think the atmosphere will preserve in its pockets the shadows of death and the stench of graves?
Though he also held critical views of America, Gibran was appreciative of the life and opportunities it gave him. In his poem "To Young Americans of Syrian Origin," he calls for the American Syrians to embrace both American and Syrian culture.
And what is it to be a good citizen?
It is to acknowledge the other person's rights before asserting your own, but always to be conscious of your own.
It is to be free in word and deed, but it is also to know that your freedom is subject to the other person's freedom...
... It is to be proud of being an American, but it is also to be proud that your fathers and mothers came from a land upon which God laid His gracious hand and raised His messengers.
Young Americans of Syrian origin, I believe in you.