On the recent publication of Kahlil Gibran's Collected Works.

Author:Jacobs, Alan
Position:Opinion - Poem
 
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I Expansive and yet vacuous is the prose of Kahlil Gibran, And weary grows the mind doomed to read it. The hours of my penance lengthen, The penance established for me by the editor of this magazine, And those hours may be numbered as the sands of the desert. And for each of them Kahlil Gibran has prepared Another ornamental phrase, Another faux-Biblical cadence, Another affirmation proverbial in its intent But alas! lacking the moral substance, The peasant shrewdness, of the true proverb. O Book, O Collected Works of Kahlil Gibran, Published by Everyman's Library on a dark day, I lift you from the Earth to which I recently flung you When my wrath grew too mighty for me, I lift you from the Earth, Noticing once more your annoying heft, And thanking God--though such thanks are sinful--That Kahlil Gibran died in New York in 1931 At the age of forty-eight, So that he could write no more words, So that this Book would not be yet larger than it is. O Book--To return to my point, Which I had misplaced in my wrath--O Book, Five times I open you at random, Five times I record for my readers what I see. At the first opening, these words: "And I gazed at Him, and my soul quivered within me, for He was beautiful." At the second opening, these words: "You the talkative I have loved, saying, 'Life hath much to say'; and you the dumb I have loved, whispering to myself, 'Says he not in silence what I would fain hear in words?'" At the third opening, these words: "Work is love made visible." To which I reply, You must have been pretty lucky in your job, If you ever actually had a job, But then I recall myself to myself, And I discern that my task at the moment is but to open the book, Not to comment thereupon. Therefore I turn, and cause the Book to be opened a fourth time: "Men do not desire blessedness upon their lips, nor truth in their bowels" --And I make no comment about the bowels, But rather allow the completion of the thought, such as it is--"For blessedness is the daughter of tears, and truth is but the son of pain." And therefore the fifth and thank God the last Opening of the Book is at hand: "Absolve me from things of pomp and state, For the earth in its all is my land, And all mankind my countrymen." Five times I have opened the Book, And here I swear a great vow that I opened truly at random, Except that once I opened to a narrative passage That, had I quoted it, would not have made sense. Not that any of the rest made sense either, But you...

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