Lebanese-American philosophical essayist,
novelist, mystical poet, and artist. In the 1960s Gibran's works
influenced especially American popular culture. He also illustrated a
number of his books with his own drawings. Gibran believed that if a
sensible way of living and thinking could be found, people would have
mastery over their lives.
"The human heart cries out for
help; the human soul implores us for deliverance; but we do not heed
their cries, for we neither hear nor understand. But the man who hears
and understands we call mad, and flee from him."
Khalil Gibran was born in Bechari (Bsharri),
Lebanon, a mountain village of Maronite Christians. A talented child, he
was modelling, drawing, and writing at an early age. Gibran's mother
took her children to the United States, but their father remained in
Lebanon. The family settled first in Boston, then in New York. Gibran
returned to Lebanon in 1897 for two years to study Arabic literature in
Beirut at al-Hikma College. Gibran's artistic talents was recognized
early and he was introduced to F. Holland Day, a photographer, who
tutored him in art and literature. Through Day Gibran was given entrée
to Boston society, where he acquired valuable contacts. Gibran's mother
died when he was 20. His sister supported him while he established
himself as a writer and painter. Gibran's most ardent benefactress was
Mary Haskell, the headmistress of a progressive girl's school in
Cambridge. She supported her protégé financially for most of his
In 1904 Gibran had his first art exhibition in
Boston. His first book, AL-MUSIQA (1905) was about music. It was
followed by two collections of short stories and a novelette in 1912.
From 1908 to 1910 he studied art in Paris with August Rodin. In 1912 he
settled in New York, where he devoted himself to writing and painting.
Though concerned with the transcendental in his books, the basic subject
in Gibran's art was naked human bodies, tenderly intertwined .
Gibran's early works were written in Arabic and
are considered central to the development of modern Arabic literature.
Gibran also wrote for journals published by the Lebanese and Arab
communities in the U.S. From 1918 he wrote mostly in English and managed
to revolutionize the language of poetry in the 1920s and 1930s. His
first book for the publishing company Alfred Knopf was THE MADMAN
(1918), a slim volume of aphorisms and parables written in biblical
cadence somewhere between poetry and prose. Usually Gibran used
prophetic tone to condemn the evils that torment his homeland or
threaten the humankind. His style, a combination of beauty and
spirituality, became known as 'Gibranism'. "I am
a stranger to myself. I hear my tongue speak, but my ears find that
voice strange. I may see my hidden self laughing, crying, defiant
frightened, and thus does my being become enamored of my being and thus
my soul begs my soul for explanation. But I remain unknown, hidden,
shrouded in fog, veiled in silence." (from 'The Poet')
In 1920 he founded a society for Arab writers called "Aribitah"
(the pen bond), and supported the struggle to revolutionize the
classically conservative Arabic literature. A very important channel for
new ideas was Al Magar, the first New York Arabic newspaper, that
Gibran wrote for. Other influential writers included Mikha'il Nu'aima
(1889-1988), Iliya Abu Madi (1889-1957), Nasib Arida (1887-1946), Nadra
Haddad (1881-1950), and Ilyas Abu Sabaka (1903-47). Especially Mikha'il
Nu'aima's critical writings paved way to new freedom in poetic
expression. Although Gibran was not a great poetry in verse, and most of
his writings in prose should not be regarded as 'poetry', he opened
doors to a new kind of creativity. Salma Khadra Jayyusi wrote in 1987
that Gibran's rhythm "fell on ears like magic, intoxicating in its
frequent use of interrogations, repetitions, and the vocative; by a
language which was at once modern, elegant, and original; and by an
imagery that was evocative and imbued with a healthy measure of emotion.
His vision of a world made sterile by dead mores and conventions but
redeemable through love, good will, and constructive action deepened his
readers' insights en enlightened their views of life and man."
Gibran died of liver disease, possibly
accelerated by alcoholism, in New York on April 10, 1931. Upon his
death, his body was shipped back to his hometown in Lebanon, where
alongside his tomb The Gibran Museum was later established. In his will
Gibran left all the royalties of his books to his native village.
"When the souls rise in
light of their joy, my soul ascends glorified by the
dark of grief.
I am like you, Night! And when my morn comes, then
my time will end."
Gibran's best-known work is THE PROPHET, a
partly autobiographical book of 26 poetic essays, which has been
translated into over 20 languages. The Prophet, who has lived in a
foreign city 12 years, is about to board a ship that will take him home.
He is stopped by a group of people, whom he teaches the mysteries of
life. The resulting 26 sermons are meant to emancipate the listeners. In
the 1960s The Prophet became a counterculture guide and in the
1980s the message of spiritualism overcoming material success was
adopted by Yuppies. Critics have not treated the book well. Its mystical
poetry is frequently read at weddings even today. Among Gibran's other
popular books is THE EARTH GODS (1931), a dialogue in free verse between
three titans on the human destiny.
Fill each other's cup but drink not
from one cup.
Sing and dance together and be
but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.
(from The Prophet: Marriage)
Meditations & Spoken Word Inspiration
For further reading: This
Man from Lebanon by B. Young (1945); This
Man from Lebanon by B. Young (1945); Kahlil
Gibran: A Biography by M. Naimy (1959); The
Parables of Kahlil Gibran by A.S.
Otto(1963); Kahlil Gibran by K.S. Hawi (1963); An
Introduction to Kahlil Gibran by S.B.
Bushrui (1970); Kahlil Gibran: The Nature of
Love by A.D. Sherfan (1971); Kahlil
Gibran by J. Gibran and K. Gibran (1975); Gibran of Lebanon,
ed. by S.B. Bushrui and P. Gotch (1975); The
Meaning of Kahlil Gibran by M.S. Daoudi
(1982); The Lebanese Prophets of New York by N. Naimy (1985); Kahlil
Gibran of Lebanon by S.B. Bushrui (1987); Modern
Arabic Poetry, ed. by Salma Khadra Jayyusi (1987); Kahlil
Gibran: A Prophet in the Making by W. Shehadi (1991) - For FREE
Mp3 Downloads: Selections From The
Prophet By Kahlil Gibran Read By Donald Gordon Carty / A
Spoken Word Tribute - Suom.: Gibranin
keskeinen tuotanto on julkaistu suomeksi nimellä Idän
ja lännen profeetta, teos Ajan
virta sisältää Gibranin mietelauseita.
Teokseen Mestarin sanoja (1993) on koottu Gibranin kaksitoista
"The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran - A brilliant man's philosophy
on love, marriage, joy and sorrow, time, friendship and much more.
"The Madman" by Kahlil Gibran - Thought provoking
collection of life affirming parables and poems.
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More Kahlil Gibran
I have recently discovered the titles of several other
books by Kahlil Gibran and fortunately for all of us, they are still in
print. All of these may be purchased directly from, or ordered through
your normal book retailer.
- AL-MUSIQA, 1905
- ARA'IS AL MURUDJ, 1906 - Nymphs of the
- STONEFOLDS, 1907
- ON THE TRESHOLD, 1907
- AL-ARWAH AL-MUTAMARRIDA, 1908 -
Spirits Rebellious - Kapinalliset henget
- DAILY BREAD, 1910
- FIRES, 1912
- AL-AGNIHA AL-MUTAKASSIRA, 1912 - The
Broken Wings - Särkyneet siivet
- DAM'AH WA-IBTISAMAH, 1914 - A Tear and
- THE MADMAN, 1918 - Jumalan tuli
- TWENTY DRAWINGS, 1919
- AL-MAWAKIB, 1919 - The Procession
- AL-'AWASIF, 1920
- THE FORERUNNER, 1920 - Edelläkävijä
- THE PROPHET, 1923 - Profeetta
- AL-BADA'I' WA-AL-TARA'IF, 1923
- SAND AND FOAM, 1926 - Merta ja hiekka
- JESUS, THE SON OF MAN, 1928 - Jeesus,
ihmisen poika, suom. Helmi Krohn
- THE EARTH GODS, 1931 - Maan jumalat
- THE WANDERER, 1932 - Vaeltaja
- GARDEN OF THE PROPHET, 1933 -
- THE DEATH OF THE PROPHET, 1933
- PROSE POEMS, 1934 - Temppelin portilla
- TEARS AND LAUGHTER, 1946
- THE SECRETS OF THE HEART, 1947
- SPIRIT REBELLIOUS, 1948
- NYMPHS OF THE VALLEY, 1948
- A TREASURY OF KAHLIL GIBRAN, 1951
- THE BROKEN WINGS, 1957
- THE PROCESSION, 1958
- A SELF PORTRAIT, 1959
- THOUGHTS AND MEDITATIONS, 1960
- A SECOND TREASURY OF KAHLIL GIBRAN,
- SPIRITUAL SAYINGS, 1962
- THE VOICE OF THE MASTER, 1963 -
- MIRRORS OF THE SOUL, 1965
- THE WISDON OF GIBRAN, 1966
- SPIRITUAL SAYINGS, 1970
- PROPHESIES OF LOVE, 1971
- BELOVED PROPHET, 1972
- LAZARUS AND HIS BELOVED, 1973
- DRAMAS OF LIFE, 1982
- BLUE FLAME, 1983
- KAHLIL GIBRAN: PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS
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