Posted in Peace & Justice, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Pity the Nation: Voices of the Poet Prophets, Gibran and Ferlinghetti

Photograph © Jamie Dedes

All day yesterday visitors were flying to the original 2017 posting of these poems at The Poet by Day. It’s not hard to guess what is driving interest in them. Here the poems are again for all to read and ponder along with a word from Bernie:  “Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one,” Sanders declared Thursday . . . He . . . framed it as a moment of moral gravity akin to the run-up to the Iraq War, not least because so much of the present conflict with Iran stems from the fateful intervention that began in 2003.” MORE Huffington Post



Lebanese-American poet, Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) public domain illustration

Pity The Nation
Khalil Gibran, 1933, “The Garden of the Prophet”

Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,
yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,
and farewells him with hooting,
only to welcome another with trumpeting again.


American poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (b. 1919), photo credit voxtheory under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

“PITY THE NATION”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (After Khalil Gibran) 2007

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
Whose sages are silenced
And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
Except  to praise conquerors
And acclaim the bully as hero
And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture
Pity the nation that knows
No other language but its own
And no other culture but its own
Pity the nation whose breath is money
And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
Pity the nation oh pity the people
who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away
My country, tears of thee
Sweet land of liberty!

© Lawrence Ferlinghetti 

Link HERE for more of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetry

Posted in Essay, Jamie Dedes

MYSTIC POET-PHILOSOPHER

Kahlil Gibran Memorial, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

Excerpt from

THE PROPHET

by

Khalil Gibran

If you are viewing this poem on the home page, you will need to click with your mouse on the subject line of the post to see the poem laid out properly.

And a man said, Speak to us of Self-Knowledge.
And he answered saying:
Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.

And it is well you should.
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”
Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.”
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

♥ ♥ ♥

The Lebanese-American artist and poet-philospher, Gibran Khalil Gibran, died on this day in 1931. He was born in 1883. He wrote in the Arabic and in English and was from the northern Lebanon town of Bsharri (the ancient name meaning “the house of Ishtar,” after the goddess Ishtar worshiped by the ancient Phoenicians). Bsharri is in the Kadisha Valley below the famed cedar forests of Lebanon. In modern times Bsharri was enclave for Maronite Christians escaping from the Ottoman Turks. Until the late 19th Century/20th Century, Aramaic* was the language of Bsharri. Its influence is still evident in the verbal inflection of its people.

Initially, The Prophet (1923, U.S.), was not well-received by critics, though it met with some success with the public. By the sixties and the counter-culture** it – and all his work – gained greater acceptance and a wider audience. As with other like spirits, Gibran is considered a mystic by some and a charlatan by others. Gibran found wisdom in the transcendent elements of all spiritual traditions he encountered, but was born into a Maronite family.

The Maronites are Eastern Catholics in communion with the Apostolic See (the seat of authority for the Catholic Church based in Rome, Italy), and followers of St. Maron, a Syrian priest of the fifth century. Also from the Aramaic speaking peoples, St Marion was a friend and contemporary of St. John Chrysostom (Turkish) and Anthony the Great (Egyptian) and led a monastic life. Before the rise of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent Lebanese diaspora, this was the majority population in the Lebanon. 3,500,000 people practice this religion world-wide. In the United States some 200,000 are Maronite.

Maronites building a church on Mt. Lebanon, circa 1920s. Public domain photo via Wikipedia.

Video posted to YouTube by . This is a short documentary of about ten minutes.

Gibran Museum in Lebanon courtesy of Xtcrider via Wikipedia. Public domain photo.


Gibran Memorial at Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. via Wikipedia. Public domain photo.

1904 – 1930, written in Boston, New York and Paris, where Gibran studied art under Rodin.

* Aramaic, a Semitic language, was the language of Jesus and the Apostles, the literary language and the vernacular of ancient Asia Minor, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Palestine. The Peshitta texts (Old and New Testaments) were written in Aramaic and some claim they are the original New Testament documents.

**counter-culture – a cultural movement initiated mainly in the U.K. and the U.S. It spread though most of the western world between 1958  and 1974 with its peak after 1964. The counter-culture movement of the ’60s created a cultural divide mainly along age lines with youth forming a subculture questioning the social norms of the day and changing many regarding wars (especially Vietnam), sexuality, religion and spirituality, music, drugs, abortion, women’s rights, racial rights, gay/lesbian rights, free speech, environmentalism, dress codes, and so forth. It started in ’58 in London with an act of civil disobedience when students marched to ban the bomb (i.e. nuclear weapons).

Photo credit for Washington, D. C. Memorial – Gyrofrog licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 1.0 License.