Prophetic poetic | Daily News


 

Prophetic poetic

Professor Suheil Bushrui, the internationally recognised authority on the life and works of Kahlil Gibran (1883 – 1931) states that Gibran occupies today a unique position amidst the pantheon of the works of the greatest writers and creative geniuses. This is seen in the discount on the work of Gibran such as the bestselling work The Prophet, Jesus, the Son of Man, The Madman, Prose Poems, Spiritual Sayings and A Tear and a Smile.

The latest work as compiled by Suheil Bushrui is titled A Spiritual Treasury. This compilation carries the salient and most prophetic of Gibran’s writings arranged into 38 broad topics, plus an introduction by way of a prologue, a chronology of the life of Kahlil Gibran. The most striking point of illumination is that the compilation attempts to draw attention to a broad gamut of spiritual factors as visualised by Gibran.

As such, the reader gets the chance of encountering the essence of Gibran thinking in a single volume. The title, Spiritual Treasury, is apt. Gibran is known to the world as a poet, artist, mystic, a recreator of myths and legends and a thinker. Excerpts from the work A Tear and a Saint, the compiler presents as a prologue to the world a vision that goes as I came to say a word. In this sensitive creation, the reader comes to know in a vision, the entire intention of Gibran creations that goes as follows:

My spirit is to me a companion who comforts me when the days grow heavy upon me; who consoles me when the afflictions of life multiply?

Then proceeds to state:

Who is not a companion to his spirit is an enemy, to people. And he who seems not in his self a friend dies despairing. For life springs from within a man and comes not from without him.

Then he concludes by saying:

And what I now say with one tongue, tomorrow will say with many.

In a nutshell, this is the essence of the spiritual writings of Gibran, as he transcends from there, a mere plane of a poet and a story writer.

As Professor Bushrui states, Gibran may be said to embody in himself the successful reconciliation of widely disparate cultures and traditions, languages and literature. To the casual reader cum observer, it might appear paradoxical and implausible that a single person should blend within himself influences as diverse as Nietzsche, Christianity, Islam and the Romanticism poets such as Wordsworth and mystic poets such as Blake and their senior and junior contemporaries. Then enters his grasp of cultures living in environments such as Paris and New York besides his own cultural conditioning in Lebanon, his birthplace.

During a short span of life, Gibran had been grossly engaged in the function of learning, thinking and writing apart from his painting of mystical drawings that went into the illustrating for his works. Gibran is seen triumphantly achieving all these sectors that had gone into the making of an independent thinker enveloped in spiritualism. It looks as if Gibran has an intense foreboding of a world that in the grip of senseless violence and destruction, to heal oneself and pacify the conscience.

The opening segment is a series of thoughts on God selected from various works. Culled from the work titled Sand and Foam there goes a saying:

The first thought of God was an Angel

The word of God was a Man.

From the work titled ‘Beloved Prophet’, Gibran like most ancient prophets tend to compare the blessings of nature to personify God. One such saying goes as follows: I see Him rising like the mist from the seas and mountains and plains. God is glowing through His desire, and man and earth, and all there is upon the earth, rise towards God by the power of desire.”

From the saying on God, the reader’s attention is drawn towards the topic On Religion.

At the outset Gibran says:

If we were to do away with (the non-essentials) of the various religions, we would find ourselves united and enjoying one great faith and religion, abounding in brotherhood.

The most sensitive and penetrative visions emerge from the saying selected ‘On Love’ culled from the work The Broken Wings Gibran states: Love is the only freedom in the world because it so elevates the spirit that laws of humanity and the phenomena of nature do not alter its course.

Then in another instance, Gibran queries:

Tell me, for love’s sake, what is that – flame which burns in my heart, and devours my strength and dissolves my will?

(Thoughts and Meditations)

There are short dictums that go as follows:

Love, like death, changes everything.

Love is a word of light, written by hand of light, upon a page of light.

When love becomes vast love becomes wordless.

Gibran in the manner paves the way to creative thinking and creative contemplation. On presenting this spiritual treasury, the compiler makes the reader know that Gibran was inspired by his difficult, and, at times, harrowing experiences as an immigrant in an adopted land (America), he dedicated his life and work to the resolution of cultural and societal conflicts. And in this process developed, as few writers have done before or since, a universal consciousness that transcends the barriers of the orient (east) and occident (west).

For a moment scanning the pages of the spiritual treasury, I was reminded of two poets, Tagore, and Krishnamurthi, who attempted a lifelong dealing to the power of the individual introspection. A researcher on the aspects of insights into communication may take these three creators seriously. As a reader, I felt that Gibran had left no stone unturned in the search for meanings behind the social forces like ‘On Women and Women’s Rights. One good example goes as follows.

Men who do not forgive women their little faults, will never enjoy their great virtues.

(Sand and Foam)

Women shall be forever the womb and the cradle but not the tomb.

(Jesus, the son of Man)

Quite a number of poetic visions emerge from the sayings ‘On Children’. One of the most fascinating moveable poems goes as follows:

Your children are not your children

They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

They come through you, but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

(The Prophet)

The pages of the Spiritual Treasury are illustrative as an added dimension to the contents. They are also obtained from the works of Gibran and meaningfully utilised not as mere decorations but as visual insights to the contents: These illustrations could be utilised further to teach visual communication at all levels.


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