Kahlil Gibran (1883 - 1931) was a Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer in the Pen League, an Arab-American literary society. He is mainly known for his 1923 book The Prophet, an imaginative work of fiction that pioneered a mix of philosophical musings written in poetic English prose.
By one account, Gibran is the third bestselling poet after Shakespeare
and Lao-Tzu. Exploring the 100 fables, poems, and parables in this collection, we sense the creativity and energy that animated Gibran. The section titles of this paperback illustrate his incredibly energetic exploration of life's meaning:
- Listening to Nature's Life
- Beauty and the Song of Life
- Life's Human Journey
- Seasons of Life
- Paradoxical Life
- The Life of the Soul
The selections are drawn from A Tear and a Smile, The Procession, The Forerunner, The Prophet, Sand and Foam, Jesus The Son of Man, The Wanderer, The Garden of the Prophet, and other works.
Neil Douglas-Klotz is a well-known scholar in religious studies, spirituality, and psychology. Living in Edinburgh, Scotland, he directs the Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning and and for many years as the chair of the Mysticism Group of the American Academy of Religion. A Sufi, he is also the cofounder of the International Network for the Dances of Universal Peace.
In the Introduction, Douglas-Klotz gives some background on Gibran's Middle East culture, nature mysticism, and spirituality. He makes it clear that this gifted poet was in sync with the vitality of the life within and the life all around him in the pulsating world.
Gibran was drawn to the writings of the 12th century Andalusian Sufi Ibn Arabi who saw reality in terms of a "unity of Being" where everything was suffused with the Divine. In two poems on trees, Gibran sings praises to the unity and mutuality of these magnificent beings:
"Trees are poems
that the earth writes upon the sky.
We fell them down and
turn them to paper
that we may record our emptiness."
Also exploring the same thematic line:
"Said a tree to a man.
'My roots are in the deep red earth, and I shall give you of my fruit.'
And the man said to the tree.
'How alike we are. My roots are also deep in the red earth. And the red earth gives you power to bestow upon me of your fruit, and the red earth teaches me to receive from you with thanksgiving."