When historians look back at the twentieth century they will see human consciousness being stretched upwards toward the heavens and outwards across the earth; an age when East and West finally touched and the peoples of the world awoke to the voices of a larger humanity. They will see the great poets of the West embracing the East – Yeats’s translation of the Upanishads and Eliot’s epiphany as he first read the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám – the world itself appearing transformed, renewed, painted with “bright, delicious” lines.
They will find too the great writers of the East embracing this new global consciousness and embarking upon a voyage of discovery. At the forefront of this new adventure they will find the “burning genius” of Kahlil Gibran. In his work, as in his thought, Gibran achieved lasting eminence and fame as a writer in two completely disparate cultures and represents the meeting of two worlds. A liberating force in Arabic literature, he became one of the most widely read authors in his adopted tongue – his work possessing a rare and distinctive flavor of ancient wisdom and mysticism, often leaving readers amazed to discover that its creator lived in New York from 1912 to 1931.
As an oriental who wrote his most celebrated work in the major language of the Western world, Gibran’s style and philosophy is characteristic of the East, and of the Arab in particular. His constant inspiration was his own heritage, which colored his English and exercised an inescapable hold over his mind, its insistence being upon the wholeness of visionary experience and the perpetual availability of another realm of being. In all his work he expressed the deep-felt desire of men and women for a kind of spiritual life that renders the material world meaningful and imbues it with dignity.