Written by HENDRA GUNAWAN on December 25, 2009 – 8:07 pm
Shirley was a beautiful woman of England.
Yet, she was not young anymore she was 42 year old already. She lived in
Liverpool, the city where she was born.
summer, her best friend, Jane invited her to go to holiday in Greece. She never
goes to Greece, she was curious about that country, so she decided to join with
Jane in Holiday.
the Greece they stayed in a hotel near the beach. There, they welcomed by a
friendly man named Costas. He was the manager of the hotel. One evening Shirley
went to the bar for some beverage, she found Costas stood there and they begun a
“You know, I have a boat located near this
beach. Actually it belongs to my brother, but if you want, we can go for a ride
tomorrow. What do you think?” said The man to
Khalil Gibran was born on January 6, 1883, to the Maronite family of Gibran in
Bsharri, a mountainous area in Northern Lebanon.
His mother Kamila Rahmeh was
thirty when she begot Gibran from her third husband Khalil Gibran, who proved to
be an irresponsible husband leading the family to poverty. Gibran had a
half-brother six years older than him called Peter and two younger sisters,
Mariana and Sultana, whom he was deeply attached to throughout his life, along
with his mother. Kamila’s family came from a prestigious religious background,
which imbued the uneducated mother with a strong will and later on helped her
raise up the family on her own in the U.S.
Growing up in the lush region of
Bsharri, Gibran proved to be a solitary and pensive child who relished the
natural surroundings of the cascading falls, the rugged cliffs and the
neighboring green cedars, the beauty of which emerged as a dramatic and symbolic
influence to his drawings and writings. Being laden with poverty, he did not
receive any formal education or learning, which was limited to regular visits to
a village priest who doctrined him with the essentials of religion and the
Bible, alongside Syriac and Arabic languages. Recognizing Gibran’s inquisitive
and alert nature, the priest began teaching him the rudiments of alphabet and
language, opening up to Gibran the world of history, science, and language. At
the age of ten, Gibran fell off a cliff, wounding his left shoulder, which
remained weak for the rest of his life ever since this incident. To relocate the
shoulder, his family strapped it to a cross and wrapped it up for forty days, a
symbolic incident reminiscent of Christ’s wanderings in the wilderness and which
remained etched in Gibran’s memory.
At the age of eight, Khalil Gibran, Gibran’s father, was accused of tax
evasion and was sent to prison as the Ottomon authorities confiscated the
Gibrans’ property and left them homeless. The family went to live with relatives
for a while; however, the strong-willed mother decided that the family should
immigrate to the U.S., seeking a better life and following in suit to Gibran’s
uncle who immigrated earlier. The father was released in 1894, but being an
irresponsible head of the family he was undecided about immigration and remained
behind in Lebanon.
On June 25, 1895, the Gibrans embarked on a voyage to the American shores of
At the time the second largest Lebanese-American community was in Boston’s
South End, so the Gibrans decided to settle there. His mother began working as a
peddler to bring in money for the family, and Gibran started school on September
30, 1895. Since he had had no formal schooling in Lebanon, school officials
placed him in a special class for immigrants to learn English. Gibran’s English
teacher suggested that he Anglicise the spelling of his name in order to make it
more acceptable to American society. Kahlil Gibran was the result.
In his early teens, the artistry of Gibran’s drawings caught the eye of his
teachers and he was introduced to the avant-garde Boston artist, photographer,
and publisher Fred Holland Day, who encouraged and supported Gibran in his
A publisher used some of Gibran’s drawings for book covers in 1898, and
Gibran held his first art exhibition in 1904 in Boston. During this exhibition,
Gibran met Mary Elizabeth Haskell, a respected headmistress ten years his
senior. The two formed an important friendship that lasted the rest of Gibran’s
life. Though publicly discreet, their correspondence reveals an exalted
intimacy. Haskell influenced not only Gibran’s personal life, but also his
career. In 1908, Gibran went to study art with Auguste Rodin in Paris for two
years. This is where he met his art study partner and lifelong friend Youssef
Howayek. He later studied art in Boston.
While most of Gibran’s early writings were in Syriac and Arabic, most of his
work published after 1918 was in English. Gibran also took part in the New York
Pen League, also known as the “immigrant poets”, alongside other important
Lebanese American authors such as Ameen Rihani (“the father of Lebanese American
literature”), Mikhael Naimy and Elia Abu Madi.
Much of Gibran’s writings deal with Christianity, mostly condemning the
corrupt practices of the Eastern churches and their clergies during that era.
His poetry is notable for its use of formal language, as well as insights on
topics of life using spiritual terms.
Gibran’s best-known work is The Prophet, a book composed of 26 poetic essays.
During the 1960s, The Prophet became especially popular with the American
counterculture and New Age movements. The Prophet remains famous to this day,
having been translated into more than 20 languages.
One of his most notable lines of poetry in the English speaking world is from
‘Sand and Foam’ (1926), which reads : ‘Half of what I say is meaningless, but I
say it so that the other half may reach you’. This was taken by John Lennon and
placed, though in a slightly altered form, into the song Julia from The Beatles’
1968 album The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album).Gibran also inspired John F.
Kennedy’s often quoted sentence in the 1961 inaugural address with his 1925
article, “The New Frontier,” which contained the epigrammatic : “Are you a
politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what
you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if
the second, then you are an oasis in a desert.”
Juliet Thompson, one of Khalil Gibran’s acquaintances, said that Gibran told
her that he thought of `Abdu’l-Bahá, the divine leader of the Bahá’í Faith in
his lifetime, all the way through writing The Prophet. `Abdu’l-Bahá’s personage
also influenced Jesus, The Son of Man, another book by Gibran. It is certain
that Gibran did two portraits of him during this period.
Gibran died in New York City on April 10, 1931: the cause was determined to
be cirrhosis of the liver and tuberculosis. Before his death, Gibran expressed
the wish that he be buried in Lebanon. This wish was fulfilled in 1932, when
Mary Haskell and his sister Mariana purchased the Mar Sarkis Monastery in
Lebanon. Gibran remains the most popular Lebanese-American writer ever.
Gibran willed the contents of his studio to Mary Haskell. There she
discovered her letters to him spanning 23 years. She initially agreed to burn
them because of their intimacy, but recognizing their historical value she saved
them. She gave them, along with his letters to her which she had also saved, to
the University of North Carolina Library before she died in 1964. Excerpts of
the over six hundred letters were published in “Beloved Prophet” in 1972.
Mary Haskell Minis (she wed Jacob Florance Minis after moving to Savannah,
Georgia in 1923) donated her personal collection of nearly one hundred original
works of art by Gibran to the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah in 1950. Haskell
had been thinking of placing her collection at the Telfair as early as 1914. In
a letter to Gibran, she explained, “…I am thinking of other museums…the unique
little Telfair Gallery in Savannah, Ga., that Gari Melchers chooses pictures
for. There when I was a visiting child, form burst upon my astonished little
soul.” Haskell’s extraordinary gift to the Telfair is the largest public
collection of Kahlil Gibran’s visual art in the country, consisting of five oils
and numerous works on paper rendered in the artist’s lyrical style, which
reflects the influence of symbolism.
Love one another, but make not a bond of
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of
Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one
Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same
Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each one of you be
Even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping;
For only The Hand
of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together;
For the pillars of the
temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s
Poem by Khalil Gibran (aka Kahlil Jubran)