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GIBRAN, Khalil


Pity The Nation

Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,

and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,

yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice

save when it walks in a funeral,

boasts not except among its ruins,

and will rebel not save when its neck is laid

between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,

whose philosopher is a juggler,

and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,

and farewells him with hooting,

only to welcome another with trumpeting again.


If I could catch a rainbow

If I could catch a rainbow

I would do it just for you.

And share with you it’s beauty

On the days you’re feeling blue.

If I could build a mountain

You could call your very own.

A place to find serenity

A place to be alone.

If I could take your troubles

I would toss them into the sea,

But all these things I’m finding

Are impossible for me.

I cannot build a mountain

Or catch a rainbow fair,

But let me be what I know best,

A friend that is always there.


Dead are my people

Dead are my people

Gone are my people, but I exist yet,

Lamenting them in my solitude...

Dead are my friends, and in their Death

My life is naught but great Disaster.

The knolls of my country are submerged

By tears and blood, for my people and

My beloved are gone, and I am here

Living as I did when my people and my

Beloved were enjoying life and the

Bounty of life, and when the hills of

My country were blessed and engulfed

By the light of the sun.

***

My people died from hunger, and he who

Did not perish from starvation was

Butchered with the sword; and I am

Here in this distant land, roaming

Amongst a joyful people who sleep

Upon soft beds, and smile at the days

While the days smile upon them.

***

My people died a painful and shameful

Death, and here am I living in plenty

And in peace...This is deep tragedy

Ever-enacted upon the stage of my

Heart; few would care to witness this

Drama, for my people are as birds with

Broken wings, left behind the flock.

***

If I were hungry and living amid my

Famished people, and persecuted among

My oppressed countrymen, the burden

Of the black days would be lighter

Upon my restless dreams, and the

Obscurity of the night would be less

Dark before my hollow eyes and my

Crying heart and my wounded soul.

For he who shares with his people

Their sorrow and agony will feel a

Supreme comfort created only by

Suffering in sacrifice. And he will

Be at peace with himself when he dies

Innocent with his fellow innocents.

***

But I am not living with my hungry

And persecuted people who are walking

In the procession of death toward

Martyrdom...I am here beyond the

Broad seas living in the shadow of

Tranquillity, and in the sunshine of

Peace...I am afar from the pitiful

Arena and the distressed, and cannot

Be proud of ought, not even of my own

Tears.

***

What can an exiled son do for his

Starving people, and of what value

Unto them is the lamentation of an

Absent poet?

***

Were I an ear of corn grown in the earth

of my country, the hungry child would

Pluck me and remove with my kernels

The hand of Death form his soul. Were

I a ripe fruit in the gardens of my

Country, the starving women would

Gather me and sustain life. Were I

A bird flying the sky of my country,

My hungry brother would hunt me and

Remove with the flesh of my body the

Shadow of the grave from his body.

But, alas! I am not an ear of corn

Grown in the plains of Syria, nor a

Ripe fruit in the valleys of Lebanon;

This is my disaster, and this is my

Mute calamity which brings humiliation

Before my soul and before the phantoms

Of the night...This is the painful

Tragedy which tightens my tongue and

Pinions my arms and arrests me usurped

Of power and of will and of action.

This is the curse burned upon my

Forehead before God and man.

***

And oftentimes they say unto me,

"The disaster of your country is

But naught to calamity of the

World, and the tears and blood shed

By your people are as nothing to

The rivers of blood and tears

Pouring each day and night in the

Valleys and plains of the earth..."

***

Yes, but the death of my people is

A silent accusation; it is a crime

Conceived by the heads of the unseen serpents...

It is a Sceneless tragedy...And if my

People had attacked the despots

And oppressors and died rebels,

I would have said, "Dying for

Freedom is nobler than living in

The shadow of weak submission, for

He who embraces death with the sword

Of Truth in his hand will eternalize

With the Eternity of Truth, for Life

Is weaker than Death and Death is

Weaker than Truth.

***

If my nation had partaken in the war

Of all nations and had died in the

Field of battle, I would say that

The raging tempest had broken with

Its might the green branches; and

Strong death under the canopy of

The tempest is nobler than slow

Perishment in the arms of senility.

But there was no rescue from the

Closing jaws...My people dropped

And wept with the crying angels.

***

If an earthquake had torn my

Country asunder and the earth had

Engulfed my people into its bosom,

I would have said, "A great and

Mysterious law has been moved by

The will of divine force, and it

Would be pure madness if we frail

Mortals endeavoured to probe its

Deep secrets..."

But my people did not die as rebels;

They were not killed in the field

Of Battle; nor did the earthquake

Shatter my country and subdue them.

Death was their only rescuer, and

Starvation their only spoils.




Love

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.




On Children

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.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,

but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children

as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,

and He bends you with His might

that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,

so He loves also the bow that is stable.