I am very very excited to be talking about this book because 1. It was a gift from two of my best friends and 2. I met Gibran in it.
Whenever I love a book, I tend to become emotionally attached to it, and the Essential Gibran might be the perfect example. Before receiving it, I had only known Gibran Khalil Gibran by his prestigious reputation in the literary world, and his being a national symbol in Lebanon. However, this book was a 101 on everything Gibran: it starts with an introduction on his life, followed by selections from his Arabic translated work, selections from his English works, three of his translated Lebanese poems, selections from letters he wrote to and received from Ameen Rihani, May Ziadah and Mary Haskell and finally testimonials from the people who allegedly knew him best. The edition also includes sketches drawn by him throughout his life.
If I had known that everything I read after Gibran would seem so dull, I probably would’ve kept my deeper knowledge of him for a later stage in life. Nevertheless, my understanding of poetry and poetic prose had been forever tinted by his work, and however unfair it is, he is now a reference I go back to after everything I read and everything I write.
I will leave you with some of my favorite poems and quotes from each of his selections and letters.
From his Arabic works in translation
* “Be still, my heart, be still until dawn.
Be still, for space is heavy with the odor of dead things and cannot inhale your living breath.”
From his English works
* “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my mask. Thus, I became a madman. And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us”
* “O Mist, my winged sister Mist, we are together now,
And together we shall be till life’s second day,
Whose dawn shall lay you, dewdrops in a garden,
And me a babe upon the breast of a woman,
And we shall remember.”
(This has to be my ultimate favorite poem so I couldn’t resist linking the full version of it: http://leb.net/mira/works/garden/garden11.html )
From letters to Mary Haskell
* “Each and every one of us, dear Mary, has a resting place somewhere. The resting place of my soul is a beautiful grove where my knowledge of you lives.”
I hope you get to experience the thrilling adventure of love and magic that is Gibran Khalil Gibran. This is a book that you can easily pick up and read a random few pages off, and still be enchanted by it.
Enjoy and always bring a book home. x