Pilgrimage To Gibran

Fantastic Blog by

Emily Jane O’Dell ~ Writer & Assistant Professor of History & Archaeology at the American University of Beirut

Snippet: Gibran Museum

“While surveying the fading titles in his large collection of books, I felt grateful for the unexpected glimpse into the mind of the poet. On the museum’s dusty bookshelves, I spotted Chekhov, Shakespeare, Whitman, Goethe, Balzac, Rousseau, Hugo, and Poe — along with The Kingdom of Happiness and Life in Freedom by Krishnamurti, andHuman Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death by Frederic William Henry Myers. Near the books, in vitrines lining the wall, were porcelain figures from Asia, an Egyptian servant statue that looked fake, and a leather suitcase with a metal plate which read:

K. Gibran
51 West 10th street NW

Admiring this worn artifact from the years when Gibran paid just $20.78 a month in rent to live in Greenwich Village, I thought of all the other eyes that had seen it too. After all, Gibran’s social circle was composed of the best artists and thinkers of the day — W.B. Yeats, Carl Jung, Gertrude Stein, Abdu’l-Bahá, Auguste Rodin, Sarah Bernhardt, and Ruth St. Denis.

Though Gibran’s art was shown at several prestigious galleries in New York, he never gave up his fight for the poor. One day, after witnessing a noon-time tide of workers in Manhattan, he remarked, “This procession is of slavery. The rich are rich because they can control labor for little payment.” In a piece entitled “The Plutocrat,” Gibran called the figure of an insatiable capitalist a “man-headed, iron-hoofed monster who ate of the earth and drank of the sea incessantly.”

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