Communion of Spirits
Jalil Gibran’s Thoughts and Meditations
Awake, my love, awake! For my spirit hails you from beyond the seas, and offers you her wings above the raging waves.
Awake, for silence has halted the clamour of the horses’ hoofs and the tramp of the passers-by.
Slumber has embraced the spirits of men, while I alone remain awake; longing lifts me out of enveloping sleep.
Love brings me close to you but then, anxiety takes me far away.
I have left my bed, my love, for fear of the ghost of forgetfulness hiding in the quilts.
I have thrown my book aside, for my sighs silenced the words and left the pages blank before my eyes!
Awake, awake, my love, and hear me.
I hear you, my beloved! I heard your call from beyond the seas and felt the soft touch of your wings. I have left my bed and walked upon the grass and the night dew has wet my feet and the hem of my garment.
Here I stand under the blossoms of the almond tree, heeding the call of your spirit.
Speak to me, my love, and let your breath mount the breeze that comes towards me from the valleys of Lebanon. Speak. No one bears but me. Night has taken all others to their resting places.
Heaven has woven a veil of moonlight and drawn it over all Lebanon, my beloved.
Heaven has fashioned from the shadows of night a thick cloak lined with the fumes of workshops and the breath of Death, and laid it over the frame of the city, my love.
The villagers have surrendered to Slumber in their huts in the midst of the willow and walnut trees. Their spirits have sped towards the land of dreams, my beloved.
Men are bent under the burden of gold, and the steep road of green weakens their knees. Their eyes are heavy with trouble and weariness, and they drop on their beds as a haven, my love, from the Ghosts of Fear and Despair.
The ghosts of past ages walk in the valleys, and the spirits of the kings and prophets hover over the knolls and the hills. And my thoughts, fashioned by memory, show me the might of the Chaldeans, the splendour of the Assyrians, and the nobility of the Arabs.
In the sinister alleys walk the grim spirits of the thieves; the heads of the vipers of lust appear from the crevices of the ramparts; and the ague of sickness, mingled with the agony of Death, shudders through the streets, memory has removed the veil of forgetfulness from my eyes and shows me the loathsomeness of Sodom and the sins of Gomorrah.
The branches sway, my beloved, and their rustling joins the murmur of the rivulet in the valley, repeating to our ears the canticles of Solomon, the strains of David’s harp, and the songs of Ishak al-Mausili.
The souls of the hungry children in the lodgings tremble; and the sighs of the mothers tossing upon the beds of misery and despair have reached the sky; and anxious dreams afflict the hearts of the infirm. I hear their bitter lamentations.
The fragrance of flowers has mingled with the pungent breath of the cedars. Brought by the frolicsome breeze over the hills, it fills the soul with affection and inspires longing for flight.
But the miasmas from the marshes also rise, steaming with disease. Like sharp secret arrows they have penetrated the senses and poisoned the air.
The morning has come, my beloved, and the soft fingers of wakefulness fondle the eyes of the dreamers.
Rays of light force open the shutters and reveal Life’s resolution and glory, the villages, reposing in peace and tranquillity upon the shoulders of the valley, rise from their slumber; church bells fill the air with their pleasing summons to Morning Prayer, and from the caves echo the chimes as if all Nature joins in reverent prayer. The calves have left their stalls, and the sheep and the goats their sheds, to graze upon the glittering, dewy grass. The shepherds walk before them, piping on their reeds; and behind them walk the damsels singing like the birds welcoming the morn.
And now the heavy hand of the Day lies upon the city. The curtains have been drawn from the windows and the doors are open. The fatigued eyes and drawn faces of toilers appear in the workshops. They feel death encroaching upon their lives, and on their shrivelled countenances appear Fear and Despair. The streets are congested with hurrying greedy souls; and everywhere are heard the clanking of iron, the rattling of wheels, and whistling of steam. The city has turned into a battlefield where the strong wrestle down the weak and the rich exploit and tyrannize over the poor.
How beautiful is life, my beloved; it is like the poet’s heart, filled with light and tenderness.
And how cruel is life, my love, it is like a criminal’s heart, throbbing with vice and fear.