Episode 95 – Gibran Khalil Gibran

Mariam and Rana discuss and remember the life of the phenomenal Lebanese writer, poet, and artist Gibran Khalil Gibran, and how he became a Lebanese and international icon. They speak about his early childhood, his emigration from Lebanon, his beginnings in art and literature, his bestselling books and the fame as well as his personal love life, and lastly his death and the final return to Lebanon to rest in his homeland’s soil.

Lebanese Arabic Transcript and English Contextual Translation

مريم: هاي رنا. عفوا تأخرت لأوصل، بس طولت للقيت سرفيس.

Mariam: Hi Rana. I am sorry I am late, but it took me long to find a taxi.

رنا: ولا يهمك مريم. ما حسيت بالوقت. كنت قاعدة عم بقرا مقال عن حياة جبران خليل جبران. فيه كتير تفاصيل أول مرة بعرفا عنو.

Rana: Do not worry Mariam. Time flew. I was reading an article on the life of Gibran Khalil Gibran. It has many details that are a first time for me to know about him.

مريم: ما عندي مانع أبدا نتذكر شوية معلومات عن جبران وحياتو.

Mariam: I do not mind at all to remember some information on Gibran and his life.

رنا: عظيم. بالأول، حكيو عن حياتو ونشأتو. خلق جبران ببلدة بشري بشمال لبنان سنة الـ 1883. أنا زايرتا للضيعة. طبيعة بتجنن فيا وفيا شجر وخضار كيف ما برمتي. جبران خلق بعيلة فقيرة، وتعلم بمدرسة الضيعة. كان واضح إنو هالطفل عندو مواهب رسم مميزة وصار استاذو يشجعو لينمي موهبتو.

Rana: Great. At first, they spoke about his life and growing up. Gibran was born in Bsharri town in north Lebanon in the year 1883. I visited this village. Amazing nature, and it has trees and greenery however you turn. Gibran was born in a poor family, and he got his education in the village school. It was obvious that this child had special drawing talents, and his teacher started encouraging him to develop his talent.

مريم: اللي بعرفو إنو بسبب هالفقر هاجر مع عيلتو عولاية بوسطن بأميركا كان عمرو شي 10 أو 12 سنة.

Mariam: What I know is that because of this poverty, he immigrated with his family to the state of Boston in the USA when he was 10 or 12 years old.

رنا: مزبوط. كان عمرو 12 بسنة 1895. وهونيك، بلشت تظهر موهبتو بالأدب، لتبلش مسيرتو الأدبية بعدين. هالهجرة سمحتلو كمان إنو يكتب باللغتين العربية والإنكليزية بنفس القوة والإبداع، وتميز بالكتابة عن الحب، والدين، والفلسفة.

Rana: Correct. He was 12 years old in the year 1895. There, his talent in literature began to appear so that his literature journey would start later on. This immigration allowed him to write in both Arabic and English in the same strength and creativity. He was distinguished for writing about love, religion, and philosophy.

مريم: وأكيد ذاكرين إنو صار يُعتبر أحد رموز عصر النهضة العربية  للأدب العربي الحديث وخاصة بالشعر النثري، أو يعني الشعر الحر اللي مش موزون وعالقافية.

Mariam: They surely have mentioned that later, he became an icon of The Modern Renaissance of Arabic Literature especially in prose poetry, which means free poetry that is not balanced and does not rhyme.

رنا: أكيد. وكاتبين إنو أد ما كان مميز، أساتذتو اهتمو فيه كتير وقدر يعمل أول معرض رسم سنة 1904  بجامعة كامبريدج ببريطانيا وكان عمرو بس 21 سنة. وأصدر بعدا بسنة وحدة أول كتاب إلو سماه ” الموسيقى” ومن بعدا كتاب “عرائس المروج” واللي كان كتاب فيه ثورة وهجوم على التعصب الديني والفوارق الاجتماعية بين الناس. يعني إنجازات كبيرة بعمر صغير بتدل على عبقرية جبران خليل جبران.

Rana: Sure. They have also written that given how special he was, his teachers gave him a lot of attention, and he was able to organize his first art exhibition in the year 1904 at Cambridge University in Britain. He was only 21 years old. He released after one year his first book, which he called “The Music”, and after it “Spirit Brides” book, which was a book that held a revolution and attack against religious intolerance and social differences between people. I mean, great accomplishments in a young age that indicate the genius in Gibran Khalil Gibran.

مريم: مش هو قبل أول معرض إلو رجع علبنان وعاش 4 سنين ليتلعم ويتقن اللغة العربية؟

Mariam: Didn’t he return to Lebanon before his first exhibition and live for four years to learn and master the Arabic Language?

رنا: مبلا. ورجع بعد لبنان على بوسطن، ومن بعدا انتقل للعاصمة الفرنسية باريس سنة 1908 والتحق بمعهد الفنون الجميلة. درس هونيك فن التصوير والرسم والنحت، ونشر كتاب “الأرواح المتمردة”. ومن بعد باريس انتقل عنيويورك ونشر رواية “الأجنحة المتكسرة”.

Rana: Yes. And after Lebanon, he returned to Boston. Then, he moved to the French capital, Paris, in 1908, and he joined the Academy of fine arts. He studied there the art of photography, drawing, and sculpting, and he published the “Spirits Rebellious” book.

مريم: اللي بعرفو كمان، إنو أول كتاب صدر لجبران باللغة الإنكليزية كان إسمو ” المجنون”  أو The Madman. بظن كان عمرو بوقتا 35 سنة. بقولو هالكتاب لاقى نجاح بالولايات المتحدة وتترجم مباشرةً بعد طباعتو لأربع لغات، وهني الفرنسية والألمانية والإيطالية والإسبانية. ووقت توسعت شهرتو بين الكتاب أكتر بهالفترة، أسس جبران مجموعة أدبية ضمت عدد من الكتاب المهاجرين عأميركا سماها “الرابطة القلمية”، يعني بيجمعن القلم اللي هو رمز الكتابة والابداع.

Mariam: What I also know is that the first book published for Gibran in English was titled “The Madman”. I think he was 35 years old back then. They say that this book was met by success in the USA and was translated immediately after publishing to four languages, which are French, German, Italian, and Spanish. And when his fame expanded more among writers during this period, Gibran established a literature group that included a number of immigrating writers to the USA, and he called it “The Pen League.” It means that the pen, which is the symbol of writing and creativity, brings them together.

رنا: صح. واستمر عطاء جبران بالأدب، فنشر سنة 1923 كتاب “النبي” اللي ضم 12 لوحة قام جبران برسما. وهالكتاب هو من أشهر مؤلفاتو وكتبو باللغة الإنكليزية. تمت ترجمتو لأكتر من 100  لغة ومصنف ضمن أكتر الكتب المترجمة عبر التاريخ. جبران نفسو عبر بأكتر من مناسبة إنو ما توقّع هالكتاب ينتشر وينشهر هلأد. أما بالجانب الشخصي والعاطفي، فحاكيين إنو ربطت جبران علاقة حب قوية بالأديبة اللبنانية-الفلسطينية مي زيادة وعاشو هالعلاقة بدون ما يلتقو، حب بالرسائل وعن بعد. وهالرسائل انجمعت بعدين بكتاب اسمو “الشعلة الزرقاء”، ضم 37 رسالة بيناتن.

Rana: True. Gibran’s literature bestowal continued, and he published in the year 1923 “The prophet” book, which contained 12 paintings that Gibran drew. This book is one of his most famous writings and books in English. It was translated to more than 100 languages and categorized among the most translated books throughout history. Gibran himself expressed on several occasions that he had not expected that this book would spread and become this famous. As for the personal and love life, they say that a strong love relationship connected Gibran to the Palestinian-Lebanese poet May Ziadeh. They lived this relationship without meeting. A love though letters and remotely. These letters were combined later on in a book titled “Blue flame”, which included 37 letters between them.

مريم: بس بتذكر إنو في سيدة تانية كانت بحياة جبران. بظن أميركية، وكان إلا دور كبير حسب ما بينحكى بدعم مسيرة جبران الأدبية والفنية، ماديا ومعنويا. حتى إني قريت مرة إنا كانت تدققلو لغويا كل كتاباتو وكتبو باللغة الإنكليزية.

Mariam: But I remember that there was another woman in Gibran’s life. I think American, and she had a major role according to what is usually said in supporting the literature and art journey of Gibran financially and morally. I even read once that she used to proofread all his writings and books in English language.

رنا: عم تحكي عن ماري هاسكل. كاتبين عنا كتير بالمقال. ماري كانت أكبر من جبران بحوالي عشر سنين. كتبت عنو مذكرات يومية، واتبادلت هي وياه حوالي الـ 600 رسالة بين سنة 1908 و1931. وقت توفى جبران كانت ماري بعدا عم تدقق مسودة آخر كتبو بعنوان “التائه”. وجبران كان أعلن للكل عن فضلا الكبير بصقل موهبتو لمن كتب: لقد أصبحت فنانا بفضل ماري هاسكل.

Rana: You are talking about Mary Haskell. They have written a lot about her in the article. Mary was older than Gibran by about 10 years. She wrote about him a daily diary, and they both exchanged about 600 letters between the years 1908 and 1931. When Gibran passed away, Mary was still proofreading the draft of his last book titled “The Wanderer.” And Gibran had announced to everyone her great merit in refining his talent when he wrote: I became an artist thanks to Mary Haskell.

مريم: جبران توفى بمرض السل مزبوط؟

Mariam: Gibran died due to Tuberculosis, right?

رنا: صح. اتوفى بسببو سنة 1931. ومرض السل كان متل اللعنة ععيلتو، لأن اختو وخيو اتوفو بذات المرض قبلو. كانت أمنيتو يندفن بلبنان، فإختو مريانا وماري حرصو على تنفيذ هالوصية، وهيك اندفن جبران بدير مار سركيس ببشري بعد ما رتبو مريانة وماري شرائو، واللي بعدين صار يضم متحف الأيقونة اللبنانية جبران خليل جبران.

Rana: True. He died in the year 1932. And Tuberculosis was like a curse to his family because his sister and brother died from the same disease before him. His wish was to be buried in Lebanon. Therefore, his sister Mariana and Mary made sure to accomplish this will, and this is how Gibran was buried in Saint Sarkis Monastery after Mariana and Mary arranged buying it. It later included the museum of the Lebanese icon Gibran Khalil Gibran.

مريم: بسمع إنو هالمتحف كتير حلو وغني بالمخطوطات واللوحات اللي رسمن جبران، وبضم الأدوات اللي كان يستعملا بالنحت والرسم. وإنو كمان فيه لجنة اسما لجنة جبران الوطنية، مسؤولة عن المتحف وبتملك الحق الحصري لإدارة كل إرث جبران خليل جبران الفني والأدبي وحقوق النشر لإصداراتو.

Mariam: I hear that this museum is very beautiful and rich with manuscripts and paintings painted by Gibran, and it includes the tools he used in sculpting and drawing. There is also a committee called the Gibran National Committee, which is responsible for the museum and owns the exclusive right to manage all of Gibran Khalil Gibran’s artistic and literary legacy and the copyrights of his publications.

رنا: خاتمة المقال بتحكي عن هاللجنة والمتحف. هاللجنة أُنشأت كون أعمال جبران بعدا بتترجم وبتنشر لليوم، وتحولت لمسرحيات وأغاني وحلقات إذاعية وانعمل عنا أفلام وثائقية وكمان أبحاث، خاصة حول أدبو ونظرتو العميقة للحياة والموت. يلا، أخدنا الحديث وما طلبنا شي بعد!

Rana: The end of the article speaks about this committee and the museum. This committee was established given that the works of Gibran still get translated and published until today, and it was turned into plays, songs, and radio episodes. Documentaries were made about them and also researches, especially about his literature and his deep insight on life and death. Okay, we dived into this and still did not order anything yet!

مريم: يلا لكن! خلينا نطلب شي دافي نشربو، لأن بلش يبرد الطقس.

Mariam: Let us do then! Let us order something warm to drink because the weather is getting cold.


Comprehension Questions (try to answer the questions while speaking out loud to yourself and using full sentences in Lebanese-Arabic)

  1. How was Gibran’s life as a child, and where did he get his school education?
  2. Why did Gibran’s family immigrate, and how has that affected Gibran’s life?
  3. What was some of Gibran’s achievements by the time he was 21 years old?
  4. What was Gibran’s bestseller book, and what is it about?
  5. How did Gibran Khalil Gibran die, and where was he buried?

 

Vocabulary Table

# Lebanese Arabic English Transliteration English Translation
1 طولت Tawwalet It took me long
2 حسيت Hasset Felt
3 قاعدة ’e‘deh Sitting
4 فقيرة Fa’eerah Poor
5 واضح Wadeh Obvious/Clear
6 بسبب Bisabab Because of/Due to
7 هونيك Houneek There
8 نشر Nashar Published
9 رواية Riweyeh Novel
10 أسس Assas Established
11 معرض Ma‘rad Exhibition
12 مترجمة Mtarjameh Translated
13 عن بعد ‘an Bo‘od Remotely
14 مذكرات يومية Mozakkarat Yawmiyyeh Diary
15 بتملك Btimluk Owns

 

 

 

 

 

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