By Tal Serri
This prepossessing and visceral poem by one of the world’s most extraordinary mystics
He evokes a unique kind of sentiment and ebullience in the novelty of love and the passionate yearning it awakens in you.
But, as Khalil Gibran follows love’s trajectory, he remains pragmatic in delineating love’s often painful and arduous path before it reaches maturity or the sorrows of passing.
Gibran uses language that is both plain and allegorical; it invites understanding, yet in a way that brushes against the ineffable. There’s no doubt that Gibran’s modus operandi occasionally ascends into inadvertently humorous elevations-with its anachronistic Victorianisms-and its solemn tonality seems incongruent in the ironies and specificities of North American life. And arguably its success is partly due to the self-Orientalizing of its author, whose earnest ‘Middle Eastern” persona seems right out of the 13th century Persian poet Rumi.
Here’s an excerpt from Gibran’s great poem
“ A Lover’s Call”
Where are you, my beloved? Are you in that little Paradise, watering the flowers who look upon you As infants look upon the breast of their mothers?
Or are you in your chamber where the shrine of Virtue has been placed in your honor, and upon Which you offer my heart and soul as sacrifice?
Or among the books, seeking human knowledge, While you are replete with heavenly wisdom?
Oh companion of my soul, where are you? Are you Praying in the temple? Or calling Nature in the Field, haven of your dreams?
Are you in the huts of the poor, consoling the Broken-hearted with the sweetness of your soul, and Filling their hands with your bounty? You are God’s spirit everywhere; You are stronger than the ages.
Do you have memory of the day we met, when the halo of You spirit surrounded us, and the Angels of Love Floated about, singing the praise of the soul’s deed
Do you recollect our sitting in the shade of the Branches, sheltering ourselves from Humanity, as the ribs Protect the divine secret of the heart from injury?
Remember you the trails and forest we walked, with hands Joined, and our heads leaning against each other, as if We were hiding ourselves within ourselves?
Recall you the hour I bade you farewell, And the Maritime kiss you placed on my lips? That kiss taught me that joining of lips in Love Reveals heavenly secrets which the tongue cannot utter!
That kiss was introduction to a great sigh, Like the Almighty’s breath that turned earth into man. That sigh led my way into the spiritual world, Announcing the glory of my soul; and there It shall perpetuate until again we meet.
I remember when you kissed me and kissed me, With tears coursing your cheeks, and you said, “Earthly bodies must often separate for earthly purpose, And must live apart impelled by worldly intent.
“But the spirit remains joined safely in the hands of Love, until death arrives and takes joined souls to God.
“Go, my beloved; Love has chosen you her delegate; Over her, for she is Beauty who offers to her follower The cup of the sweetness of life. As for my own empty arms, your love shall remain my Comforting groom; you memory, my Eternal wedding.”
Where are you now, my other self? Are you awake in the silence of the night? Let the clean breeze convey To you my heart’s every beat and affection.
Are you fondling my face in your memory? That image Is no longer my own, for Sorrow has dropped his Shadow on my happy countenance of the past.
Sobs have withered my eyes which reflected your beauty And dried my lips which you sweetened with kisses.
Where are you, my beloved? Do you hear my weeping From beyond the ocean? Do you understand my need? Do you know the greatness of my patience?
Is there any spirit in the air capable of conveying To you the breath of this dying youth? Is there any Secret communication between angels that will carry to You my complaint?
Where are you, my beautiful star? The obscurity of life Has cast me upon its bosom; sorrow has conquered me. Sail your smile into the air; it will reach and enliven me!Breathe your fragrance into the air; it will sustain me!
Where are you, me beloved?
Oh, how great is Love!
And how little am I!
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