It is an absolute delight to probe into the sentiments of your favorite poet and become acquainted with how he poured his thoughts into a scratch on a sheet of paper in their initial form prior to rethinking, revising and fine-tuning them into mellower words and passages full of veracity and sincerity. Equally delightful is to see the sketches of running men and floating spirits, and literary clippings illustrated with the utmost freedom and spontaneity and to imagine how his fingers moved from colorful crayons to charcoal pencils, leaving readers to wonder whether these sketches were a sheer fluke or the result of a moment of unadulterated inspiration that the poet refused to let go.
“I was born 40 years ago. Yet, with every new day I feel that I am reborn. I spent my four decades loving, rebelling, aching, writing and painting.” This is how Gebran introduces himself in his writing. Gebran, the stranger both to the street and the church, finds little if any tranquility outside the confines of his room. Inside its walls, he would confide his most profound thoughts and reflections and they would listen and keep the secrets. Gebran, the staunch rebel who dissented from the frivolous and worn-out traditions inculcated to torment people, rises up to warn them: “you will wake up but only after my body has been laid to rest and my soul has floated among the herds of souls.” Gebran, the emigrant who had felt estranged long before his emigration from Bsharri to Boston as a young adult and his endurance of the hardships of emigration, which are best manifested in the nostalgic letters he used to send to his family and friends.
Throughout the book, we trace his life with Gebran, from his early attempts to learn French through the conjugation of verbs to his excellence in poetry during his youth, to his emigration from Lebanon right up to his participation in the Golden Links Society. Although not a politician, nor aspiring to be one, Gebran Khalil Gebran addressed the rebels and the Syrians and reproached the Zionists. For the Lebanese, he foresaw a sectarian revolution saying “he, who lives long enough, will see.” Music and art were the most sublime in his eyes and he likened them to the spirit of God fluttering among the hearts of men.
To what extent it was morally acceptable to permeate the intimate realm of Gebran which for long had remained under wraps, was a fundamental question that imposed itself on those who coordinated this literary work. Some believed that the book should not be released on the grounds that it would be a blatant intrusion upon the privacy of Gebran while others begged to differ, arguing that the publication contained nothing remote from or unfamiliar in the intellectual riches of the author or to the major concerns that he often addressed through prose, poetry and paintings. Holding to the justification that Gebran had always wished to keep aside material worthy of being published, the deliberations concluded with agreement to publish the book and full pardon was extended in advance to the late poet.