Gibran Kahlil Gibran

Soumaya Slim de Romero

Master, we would be threads between your hands and your loom.
Weave us into the cloth if you will, for we would be in
the raiment of the Most High.

Kahlil Gibran, Jesus the Son of Man, 1928

The universal poet and artist Gibran Kahlil Gibran has led us through his thought to our innermost nature, to literary forms that explore the depths of being and the at times unfathomable mysteries of love.

A sensibility of the utmost refinement, the Lebanese writer remains an icon of Middle Eastern wisdom. The father of the renaissance of Arabic letters, he was a poet, essayist, novelist, painter, draftsman, and universal bard of life.

There are echoes in his voice of the land of the cedars, of its millennial cultures that have been carried to France especially, but also to the Americas and to all nations that have received its immigrants on their fertile shores. In the fecund soil of their new lands the Lebanese people have flourished like the fruits of their native villages: generous, bountiful, and abundant . . . With families, friends, work, and roots in the cultures that welcomed them. Their loves have woven dense and permanent bonds that extend to their children and the children of their children. For forty years Kahlil Gibran, the poet’s cousin and godson, has researched and enriched the collection with new pieces from the United States and elsewhere.

In a letter to Nakhli Gibran, dated 15 March 1908, the poet wrote: “I feel that the fires that feed the affection within me would like to dress themselves with ink and paper.” Literature joins hands with painting in the intimacy of the generous act of creation. The poet’s own collection is made up of drawings and sketches made under the influence of Leonardo, of illustrations for The Madman and The Prophet; of symbolist oils inspired by Blake and Carrière, many of them still unknown to a wider public today. Gibran was never without his sketchbook, and the lines he drew in it as a boy of barely eleven can still surprise us.

He maintained a copious correspondence with his dear sister Marianna and with his beloved muses, relatives, and friends. Of Marianna he wrote: “You give drink to the thirsty and you feed the hungry.” The collection includes his early manuscripts with emended capital letters, mostly in his native Arabic; typescripts and first editions; photographs; and precious books and objects that reflect the human dimensions of the thinker.