All controversies and debates over wearing face masks to the side, medical science played a powerful role in the ability of people around the world to survive the tumultuous rollercoaster of cataclysmic events now forever known as the year 2020. Although less spectacular when it came to taking over news headlines, the comfort provided by the timeless voices of cherished literary heroes also helped us endure mandated and self-imposed quarantines. Included among such voices was that of the Lebanese-American poet and artist Khalil Gibran (January 6, 1883 - April 10, 1931).
That is not at all surprising considering how generations continue to discover and rediscover the value of Gibran’s shared insights on such subjects as: Pain, Death, Work, Teaching, Joy, and Sorrow. His words embroider with uncommon wisdom and beauty the fabric of life as experienced on levels which transcend single personalities or cultures.
Two Important Titles
With the approach of the 100th anniversary of his classic bestselling book, THE PROPHET (first published in 1923), a number of works by and/or about Gibran were republished this past year. Two of the most important were: Beloved Prophet 2020, The Abridged Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell Her Private Journals; plus, And the Prophet Said: Kahlil Gibran's Classic Text with Newly Discovered Writings, both edited by Dalton Hilu Einhorn. (My own Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah published in 2019 includes a chapter on Gibran and the artists Claude Monet and Luther E. Vann as featured at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, Georgia.)
In his foreword to And the Prophet Said, poet Daniel Ladinsky describes the Arabic word “wali” as one which has “a range of meanings: custodian, protector, helper, friend of the Beloved, friend of all, or saint.” He then adds: “A book can become a wali.” It was my good fortune many years ago while working as a bookseller to come across a 11th-edition copy of Beloved Prophet. It became for me a much-treasured wali. I later, around 2008, published a review of it on Amazon (it can now be read on Goodreads). Several years after that, I was pleasantly surprised to receive the following inquiry about it:
Dear Aberjhani, you posted a review on Amazon of Beloved Prophet edited by Virginia Hilu. Virginia Hilu was my mother, and she died at a young age when I was very young. I know very little about this book and wondered if you could share with me your impression on what she did and what was significant about her book. Thanks!
Contemporary award-winning author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.