October 13, 2007

"And those hours may be numbered as the sands of the desert..."

Does anyone still read Kahlil Gibran? When I was younger one seemed to see the same mournful tan cover of The Prophet on everyone's bookshelves. Which still does not mean anyone read him; it was, I think, the sort of book people liked to give as a gift, conferring an aura of profundity on the giver without any need for thinking, or commitment to any ideal.

Charlene noticed this at the First Things page, in a teaser of what will be in the November issue of the magazine, for those of us wise enough to subscribe...

“Expansive and yet vacuous is the prose of Kahlil Gibran,” writes Alan Jacobs in the new issue of First Things.

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 The 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.

I don't suggest you buy Gibran! Your library has him, if you are curious. But any of my book links to amazon.com, if followed up with purchases various, will earn me a little percentage. Perhaps (if not a diamond necklace) a book by Mr Jacobs himself, or by the Editor in Chief of First Things...

Posted by John Weidner at October 13, 2007 8:21 AM
Weblog by John Weidner