About this poet

Kahlil Gibran was born January 6, 1883, in Bsharri, Lebanon, which at the time was part of Syria and part of the Ottoman Empire. He was the youngest son of Khalil Sa’d Jubran, a tax collector eventually imprisoned for embezzlement, and Kamila Jubran, whose father was a clergyman in the Maronite Christian Church. 
 
In 1885 Gibran emigrated with his mother and siblings to the United States, where they settled in the large Syrian and Lebanese community in Boston, Massachusetts. It was there that Gibran learned English and enrolled in art classes. His mother supported the family as a seamstress and by peddling linens. 
 
At the age of 15, Gibran was sent by his mother to Beirut, Lebanon, to attend a Maronite school. He returned to Boston in 1902. In that year and the one that followed, Gibran’s sister Sultana, half-brother Bhutros, and mother died of tuberculosis and cancer, respectively. His remaining living sister Marianna supported herself and Gibran as a dressmaker. 
 
In 1904 Gibran began publishing articles in an Arabic-language newspaper and also had his first public exhibit of his drawings, which were championed by the Boston photographer Fred Holland Day. Gibran modeled for Day, who was known for his photographs of boys and young men. It was through Day that Gibran’s artwork attracted the attention of a woman nine years his senior named Mary Haskell, who ran an all-girls school. Haskell became Gibran’s lifelong patron, paying for him to study art at the Académie Julian in Paris in 1908. There Gibran met the sculptor August Rodin, who reportedly once called him “the William Blake of the twentieth century.” Gibran's hundreds of drawings and paintings remain highly regarded. 
 
Haskell also enabled Gibran’s move to New York City in 1911, where he settled in a one-room apartment in bohemian Greenwich Village. At a lunch in the Village, Gibran met Alfred Knopf, who would became his publisher. In 1918, Gibran’s book of poems and parables The Madman was published. In 1923 Knopf published what would become Gibran’s most famous work, The Prophet. Though not met with critical praise or early success—the book was never reviewed by the New York Times, for example, and sold only 1,200 copies in its first year—the book became a phenomenon. The Prophet has now sold more than ten million copies, making Gibran one of the best-selling poets in the world. 
 
The Biblically inspired The Prophet was especially popular in the 1960s. About this, the translator and Middle East historian Juan Cole said, “Many people turned away from the establishment of the Church to Gibran. He offered a dogma-free universal spiritualism as opposed to orthodox religion, and his vision of the spiritual was not moralistic. In fact, he urged people to be non-judgmental."
 
Gibran was active in a New York-based Arab-American literary group called the Pen League, whose members promoted writing in Arabic and English. Throughout his life he would publish nine books in Arabic and eight in English, which ruminate on love, longing, and death, and explore religious themes. 
 
He died of cirrhosis of the liver on April 10, 1931, in New York City. 
 
Selected Bibliography
 
Poetry
 
The Madman (1918) 
Twenty Drawings (1919)
The Forerunner (1920)
The Prophet (1923)
Sand and Foam (1926)
Kingdom of the Imagination (1927)
Jesus, The Son of Man (1928)
The Earth Gods (1931)

On Death

Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.
     And he said:
     You would know the secret of death.
     But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
     The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
     If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
     For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

     In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
     And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
     Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
     Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
     Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
     Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

     For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
     And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

     Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
     And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
     And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance. 

From The Prophet (Knopf, 1923). This poem is in the public domain.

From The Prophet (Knopf, 1923). This poem is in the public domain.

Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran, author of The Prophet, was born January 6, 1883, in Bsharri, Lebanon.

by this poet

poem
They say the jackal and the mole 
Drink from the selfsame stream 
Where the lion comes to drink. 
And they say the eagle and the vulture 
Dig their beaks into the same carcass, 
And are at peace, one with the other, 
In the presence of the dead thing. 
poem
And a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty.
     And he answered:
     Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall your find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?
     And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?

     The aggrieved and the injured say, “Beauty is kind and
poem
Then Almitra spoke again and said, And what of Marriage, master?
     And he answered saying:
     You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
     You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
     Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
     But