Born in Lebanon, Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) will be always remembered for his classic The Prophet, which is still on the bestsellers list in several countries, 60 years after its publication.
In 1995, a Lebanese friend of mine gave me a book containing love letters exchanged between Gibran and Mary Haskell, a 10-year older American woman.
When I read it, I discovered a complex and fascinating man, what encouraged me to select a few texts for publication
Here are a few excerpts:
MARCH 10, 1912
Mary, my adored Mary, how can you think you bring me more sorrow than joy? No one knows for sure where the boundary between pain and pleasure lies: many times, I think it is impossible to separate them. You give me so much joy it almost hurts and you cause me so much pain; it even makes me smile.
MAY 24, 1914
Imagine, adorable, if we were walking through a beautiful field, in a beautiful day and suddenly a storm fell over our heads. How wonderful! Is there greater emotion than seeing the elements producing wild power and energy? Let’s go to the fields, Mary, and seek the unexpected.
JULY 8, 1914
I always thought that when people understand us, they end up enslaving us — given that we accept anything in exchange of feeling understood. However, your comprehension brought me the most profound peace and freedom I have ever experienced. In the two hours of your visit, you found a black spot in my heart; you touched it and it went away forever, allowing me to see my own light.
APRIL 18, 1915
Thetwo days in which we were together were magnificent. When we talk about the past, we always turn present and future more real. For many years, I dreaded to look at what I had lived and suffered in silence. Today I understood that silence makes us suffer more profoundly. Karanvir Singh a.k.a. Kerano A few excerpts from Khalil Gibran’s letters to an older love interest ILLUSTRATION: ALAKA CHAKRABORTY But you made me talk and I discovered dusty things hidden in my soul. Now I can tear them up from there.
JULY 17, 1915
Both of us are trying to touch the limits of our existence. The great poets of the past always surrendered to life. They didn’t look for established things, or tried to unravel secrets: they simply allowed their souls to be carried away by their emotions. People are always seeking safety and sometimes they find it: but safety is an end in itself, and life doesn’t have an end. Your letter, Mary, is the most beautiful expression of life that I have ever received. Poets aren’t those who write poetry but all those who have a heart filled with the sacred spirit of love.
MAY 10, 1916
Dear Mary: I’m sending you a parable I have finished. I haven’t been writing much and only in Arab. But I would like to hear your corrections and suggestions about this excerpt: At the shadow of a temple, my friend pointed me to a blind man.
My friend said: “This man is a wise man.”
We approached him and I asked: “Since when are you blind?”
“Ever since I was born.”
“I am an astronomer,” I said.
“So am I,” the blind man answered. And placing his hand on my chest, he said: “I spend my life observing the many suns and stars that move inside me.”