Sunday, December 4, 2011

A poem by Khalil Gibran

Read this very interesting prose poem by Khalil Gibran.
It seems to set up a fascinating contrast between sanity and insanity, conformity and dissent, submission and rebellion, and belonging and alienation. 


                                      From: the Madman 

God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods, hear me: 
Gentle Destiny that watchest over us, mad, wandering spirits, hear me: 
I dwell in the midst of a perfect race, I the most imperfect. 
I, a human chaos, a nebula of confused elements, I move amongst finished worlds -- peoples of complete laws and pure order, whose thoughts are assorted, whose dreams are arranged, and whose visions are enrolled and registered. 
Their virtues, O God, are measured, their sins are weighed, and even the countless things that pass in the dim twilight of neither sin nor virtue are recorded and catalogued. 
Here days and nights are divided into seasons of conduct and governed by rules of blameless accuracy. 
To eat, to drink, to sleep, to cover one's nudity, and then to be weary in due time. 
To work, to play, to sing, to dance, and then to lie still when the clock strikes the hour. 
To think thus, to feel thus much, and then to cease thinking and feeling when a certain star rises above yonder horizon. 
To rob a neighbour with a smile, to bestow gifts with a graceful wave of the hand, to praise prudently, to blame cautiously, to destroy a soul with a word, to burn a body with a breath, and then to wash the hands when the day's work is done. 
To love according to an established order, to entertain one's best self in a pre-conceived manner, to worship the gods becomingly, to intrigue the devils artfully -- and then to forget all as though memory were dead. 
To fancy with a motive, to contemplate with consideration, to be happy sweetly, to suffer nobly -- and then to empty the cup so that tomorrow may fill it again. 
All these things, O God, are conceived with forethought, born with determination, nursed with exactness, governed by rules, directed by reason, and then slain and buried after a prescribed method. And even their silent graves that lie within the human soul are marked and numbered. 
It is a perfect world, a world of consummate excellence, a world of supreme wonders, the ripest fruit in God's garden, the master-thought of the universe. 
But why should I be here, O God, I a green seed of unfulfilled passion, a mad tempest that seeketh neither east nor west, a bewildered fragment from a burnt planet? 
Why am I here, O God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods? 


Although Khalil Gibran is a world famous poet, the following brief information might be in place.

Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) was a Lebanese-American poet, artist and writer.
Gibran was born to a Maronite Catholic family from the historical town of Bshari in northern Lebnon. He migrated to USA in 1895. And as he grew up, he drew and painted and wrote both in Arabic and English.

Much of Gibran's writings deal with Christianity, especially on the topic of spiritual love. But his mysticism is a convergence of several different influences : Christianity, Islam, Sufism, Hinduism and theosophy. He wrote : "You are my brother and I love you. I love you when you prostrate yourself in your mosque, and kneel in your church and pray in your synagogue. You and I are sons of one faith - the Spirit.”

Gibran's best-known work is The Prophet, which is a book of 26 poetic essays written in English originally published in 1923 . It has been translated into over forty different languages and is one of the best-selling books of all time. Over 100 million copies have been sold since its publication.

The prophet in the book is Al-Mustafa, who has lived in the foreign city of Orphalese for 12 years and is about to board a ship which will carry him home. He is stopped by a group of people, with whom he discusses issues of life and the human condition. The book is divided into poetic essays dealing with love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, houses, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.

Gibran died in 1931 at the age of forty-eight in a New York hospital of cancer of the liver.

Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.

The poem above is from his work "the Madman", a collection of parables, which was illustrated by Gibran himself, and revealed the influence of Nietzsche, Jung and Tagore.