On Death

Kahlil Gibran 1883 (Bsharri, Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate) – 1931 ( New York City)



Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.
     And he said:
     You would know the secret of death.
     But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
     The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
     If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
     For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

     In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
     And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
     Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
     Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
     Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
     Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

     For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
     And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

     Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
     And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
     And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
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Submitted by halel on July 13, 2020

Modified on May 03, 2023

1:18 min read
2,899

Quick analysis:

Scheme AXABXBC XDXXDD CX DXX
Characters 1,400
Words 261
Stanzas 4
Stanza Lengths 7, 6, 2, 3

Kahlil Gibran

Gibran Khalil Gibran (Arabic: جبران خليل جبران‎, ALA-LC: Jubrān Khalīl Jubrān, pronounced [ʒʊˈbraːn xaˈliːl ʒʊˈbraːn], or Jibrān Khalīl Jibrān, pronounced [ʒɪˈbraːn xaˈliːl ʒɪˈbraːn]; January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931), usually referred to in English as Kahlil Gibran (pronounced kah-LEEL ji-BRAHN), was a Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist, also considered a philosopher although he himself rejected the title. He is best known as the author of The Prophet, which was first published in the United States in 1923 and has since become one of the best-selling books of all time, having been translated into more than 100 languages. Born in a village of the Ottoman-ruled Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate to a Maronite family, the young Gibran immigrated with his mother and siblings to the United States in 1895. As his mother worked as a seamstress, he was enrolled at a school in Boston, where his creative abilities were quickly noticed by a teacher who presented him to photographer and publisher F. Holland Day. Gibran was sent back to his native land by his family at the age of fifteen to enroll at the Collège de la Sagesse in Beirut. Returning to Boston upon his youngest sister's death in 1902, he lost his older half-brother and his mother the following year, seemingly relying afterwards on his remaining sister's income from her work at a dressmaker's shop for some time. In 1904, Gibran's drawings were displayed for the first time at Day's studio in Boston, and his first book in Arabic was published in 1905 in New York City. With the financial help of a newly met benefactress, Mary Haskell, Gibran studied art in Paris from 1908 to 1910. While there, he came in contact with Syrian political thinkers promoting rebellion in the Ottoman Empire after the Young Turk Revolution; some of Gibran's writings, voicing the same ideas as well as anti-clericalism, would eventually be banned by the Ottoman authorities. In 1911, Gibran settled in New York, where his first book in English, The Madman, would be published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1918, with writing of The Prophet or The Earth Gods also underway. His visual artwork was shown at Montross Gallery in 1914, and at the galleries of M. Knoedler & Co. in 1917. He had also been corresponding remarkably with May Ziadeh since 1912. In 1920, Gibran re-founded the Pen League with fellow Mahjari poets. By the time of his death at the age of 48 from cirrhosis and incipient tuberculosis in one lung, he had achieved literary fame on "both sides of the Atlantic Ocean," and The Prophet had already been translated into German and French. His body was transferred to his birth village of Bsharri (in present-day Lebanon), to which he had bequeathed all future royalties on his books, and where a museum dedicated to his works now stands. As worded by Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins, Gibran's life has been described as one "often caught between Nietzschean rebellion, Blakean pantheism and Sufi mysticism." Gibran discussed different themes in his writings, and explored diverse literary forms. Salma Khadra Jayyusi has called him "the single most important influence on Arabic poetry and literature during the first half of [the twentieth] century," and he is still celebrated as a literary hero in Lebanon. At the same time, "most of Gibran's paintings expressed his personal vision, incorporating spiritual and mythological symbolism," with art critic Alice Raphael recognizing in the painter a classicist, whose work owed "more to the findings of Da Vinci than it [did] to any modern insurgent." His "prodigious body of work" has been described as "an artistic legacy to people of all nations."  more…

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