Khalil Gibran – Poet of Love

Day 338 of Colourisation Project – April 10

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

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

In the 1960s his book of poetic essays achieved cult status among American youth and became the bible of the counter culture and New Age movements.

Translated into more than 50 languages it has never been out of print since it was first published in 1923. An international best-seller, it has sold tens of millions of copies.

Written by Lebanese born American artist, philosopher and writer, Khalil Gibran, (sometimes spelled Kahlil), The Prophet is one of the bestselling books of the twentieth century. Composed of twenty-six poetic essays delivered as sermons by a fictional wise man in a faraway time and place, it is an early example of inspirational fiction and covers all areas around life and the human condition.

Khalil Gibran Bef & Aft

Photographer: F. Holland Day ~ Khalil Gibran c. 1896 ~ Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Born in Lebanon in 1883, Gibran immigrated as a young man with his family to the United States, where he studied art and began a literary career writing in both English and Arabic. He wrote seventeen books, nine in Arabic and eight in English.

In the Arab world, Gibran is regarded as a literary hero and political rebel. His writing however transcends the barrier between East and West and has inspired many of the world’s public figures including John Lennon, Indira Gandhi and John F. Kennedy.

When President Kennedy in his 1961 inauguration speech uttered the words, ”Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country,” he should have added, ”In the words of Kahlil Gibran … ”

Gibran said the same thing in an open letter to Lebanese parliamentarians in 1925, during the fall of the Ottoman Empire. His letter titled ”The New Frontier” asks ”Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country?”  He went on ”If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if the second, then you are an oasis in the desert.”

Perhaps, even our former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser was invoking the spirit of Gibran, when he famously said in his speech in Canberra for National Sorry Day, 2003 “Reconciliation requires changes of heart and spirit, as well as social and economic change. It requires symbolic as well as practical action.”

One of the resonating legacies of Gibran’s work was his championing of universal values and the need for “a spiritual revolution, a paradigm shift and a quantum change in human consciousness, for universal human rights to emancipate women, build bridges of understanding between religions, close the gap between rich and poor.”

For Gibran, a Christian who embraced Islam, and whose basic premise throughout most of his writing was the message of peace, compassion and faith in the human race, one can only wonder what he would have made of today’s world and the insipid rising tide of Islamophobia.

Gibran died in New York City on this day, April 10, 1931 of cirrhosis of the liver and tuberculosis. He was 48 years old. In 1932 as per his wishes he was buried in the Mar Sarkis Monastery in Lebanon, which has since become the Gibran Museum.

Next to Gibran’s grave are the words;

“a word I want to see written on my grave: I am alive like you, and I am standing beside you. Close your eyes and look around, you will see me in front of you ….”

______________________________________________________________

“I am not a politician, nor do I wish to become one…Spare me the political events and power struggles, as the whole earth is my homeland and all men are my fellow countrymen.”     –Khalil Gibran

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