Among the Ruins
Jalil Gibran’s Thoughts and Meditations
The moon dropped its gauzy veil over the gardens of the City of the Sun,* and silence swathed all beings. The fallen palaces looked menacing, like sneering monsters.
At that hour two phantoms, like vapour rising from the blue water of a lake, sat on a marble pillar pondering the scene which was like a realm of magic. One lifted his head, and with a voice that set echoes reverberating, said:
“These are the remnants of temples I built for you, my beloved, and this is the rubble of a palace I erected for your enjoyment. Nothing else remains to tell the nations of the glory to which I devoted my life, and o the pomp for which I exploited the weak.
“Think and ponder, my beloved, upon the elements that triumphed over my city, and upon Time that thus belittled my efforts.
“Oblivion has submerged the empire I established, and naught is left save atoms of love which your beauty has created, and effects of beauty which your love has enlivened.
“I erected a temple in Jerusalem and the priests sanctified it, but time has destroyed it. But in my heart the altar I built for Love was consecrated by God and sustained against the powers of destruction.
“Men said of me, ‘What a wise king he is!’ the angels said, ‘How trifling is his wisdom.’ But the angels rejoiced when I found you, my beloved, and sang for you the song of Love and longing; thought men heard no notes of my hymn…
“The days of my reign were barriers to my understanding of Love and o the beauty of life, but when I saw you, Love awoke and demolished those barriers, and I lamented the life I spent considering everything under the sun as vanity.
“As Love enlightened me, I became humble both before the tribes who had feared my military might and before my own people.
“But when death came, it buried my deadly weapons in earth and carried my love to God.”
And the other phantom said, “As the flower obtains life and aromatic scent from earth, so the soul extracts wisdom and strength from the weakness and errors of matter.”
Then the two fused into one and walked away, saying:
“Eternity keeps naught but Love,
For Love is like Eternity.”