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Gibran Khalil Gibran (/ɪˈbrɑːn/;[1] Arabic: جبران خليل جبران‎ / ALA-LC: Jubrān Khalīl Jubrān or Jibrān Khalīl Jibrān), commonly known as Khalil—also "Kahlil", as he used to sign his name in English[a]Gibran (January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931) was a Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist, also considered a philosopher[7] although he himself rejected this title in his lifetime.[8] He is best known as the author of The Prophet, which was first published in the United States in 1923 and is one of the best-selling books of all time, having been translated into dozens of languages.[b]

Khalil Gibran
Khalil Gibran, April 1913
Khalil Gibran, April 1913
BornJubran Khalil Jubran
(1883-01-06)January 6, 1883
Bsharri, Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, Ottoman Syria
DiedApril 10, 1931(1931-04-10) (aged 48)
New York City, United States
Resting placeBsharri, Lebanon
OccupationWriter, poet, visual artist, philosopher
NationalityLebanese and American
GenrePoetry, parable, fragments of conversation, short story, fable, political essay, letter, aphorism
Literary movementMahjar
Notable worksThe Prophet, The Madman, Broken Wings


Born in a village of the Ottoman-ruled Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate to a Maronite Christian family, the young Gibran immigrated with his mother and siblings to the United States in 1895. As his mother worked as a seamstress, he was enrolled at a school in Boston, where his creative abilities were quickly noticed by a teacher who presented him to Fred Holland Day. Gibran was sent back to his native land by his family at the age of fifteen to enroll at al-Hikma School in Beirut. Returning to Boston upon his youngest sister's death in 1902, he lost his older half-brother and his mother the following year, seemingly relying afterwards on his remaining sister's income from her work at a dressmaker's shop for some time.

In 1904, Gibran's drawings were displayed for the first time at Day's studio in Boston, and his first book in Arabic was published in 1905 in New York City. With the financial help of a newly-met benefactress, Mary Haskell, Gibran studied art in Paris from 1908 to 1910. While there, he became involved in secret circles promoting rebellion in the Ottoman Empire after the Young Turk Revolution; his books were eventually banned by the Ottoman authorities. In 1911, Gibran settled in New York, where he would start writing The Prophet in 1915, and where his first book in English, The Madman, would be published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1918. His visual artwork was shown at Montross Gallery in 1914,[10] and at the galleries of M. Knoedler & Co. in 1917. He had also been corresponding remarkably with May Ziade since 1912.[11] In 1920, Gibran re-founded The Pen League with fellow Mahjari poets. By the time of his death at the age of 48 from cirrhosis and incipient tuberculosis in one lung, he had achieved literary fame on "both sides of the Atlantic Ocean",[12] and The Prophet had already been translated into German and in French. His body was transferred to his birth village of Bsharri (in present-day Lebanon), to which he had bequeathed all future royalties on his books, and where a museum dedicated to his works now stands.

As worded by Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins, Gibran's life has been described as one "often caught between Nietzschean rebellion, Blakean pantheism and Sufi mysticism."[13] Gibran discussed "such themes as religion, justice, free will, science, love, happiness, the soul, the body, and death"[14] in his writings, which were "characterized by innovation breaking with forms of the past, by symbolism, an undying love for his native land, and a sentimental, melancholic yet often oratorical style."[15] He explored literary forms as diverse as "poetry, parables, fragments of conversation, short stories, fables, political essays, letters, and aphorisms."[16] Salma Jayyusi has called him "the single most important influence on Arabic poetry and literature during the first half of [the twentieth] century."[17] At the same time, "most of Gibran's paintings expressed his personal vision, incorporating spiritual and mythological symbolism",[18] with art critic Alice Raphael recognizing in the painter a classicist, whose work owed "more to the findings of Da Vinci than it [did] to any modern insurgent."[19] His "prodigious body of work" has been described as "an artistic legacy to people of all nations."[20]


The Gibran family in the 1880s. Left to right: Gibran, Khalil (father), Sultana (sister), Butrus (half-brother), Kamila (mother)

Gibran was born January 6, 1883,[21] in the town of Bsharri[22] in the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, Ottoman Empire (modern-day Lebanon), to Khalil Gibran and Kamila Gibran (Rahmeh). His mother, Kamila, daughter of a priest, was thirty when he was born; his father, Khalil, was her third husband.[23][24] As a result of his family's poverty, Gibran received no formal schooling during his youth in Lebanon.[25] However, priests visited him regularly and taught him about the Bible and the Arabic language.

Gibran's home in Bsharri

Gibran's father initially worked in an apothecary, but with gambling debts he was unable to pay, he went to work for a local Ottoman-appointed administrator.[26][27] Around 1891, extensive complaints by angry subjects led to the administrator being removed and his staff being investigated.[28]

Gibran's father was imprisoned for embezzlement,[9] and his family's property was confiscated by the authorities. Kamila Gibran decided to follow her brother to the United States. Although Gibran's father was released in 1894, Kamila remained resolved and left for New York on June 25, 1895, taking Kahlil, his younger sisters Mariana and Sultana, and his elder half-brother Peter (in Arabic, Butrus).[26]

Soon after his arrival to Boston, the young boy was enrolled at the Josiah Quincy School which was situated at 88 Tyler Street and that he attended from 30 September 1895 until 22 September 1898. It was during this period his English teacher called him by his father's name – “Kahlil” – anglicising the spelling from 'Khalil to Kahlil'. She also found it odd that his first name is the same as his surname.» His father’s name was Khalil Saad Jubran (Khalīl Sa‘d Jubrān), and this probably explains why the records of the Quincy School reported the student’s name as «Kahlil Gibran Jr. alias Assad»[29]

Kahlil Gibran, photograph by Fred Holland Day, c. 1898

The Gibrans settled in Boston's South End, at the time the second-largest Syrian-Lebanese-American community[30] in the United States. Due to a mistake at school, he was registered as 'Kahlil Gibran'.[2] His mother began working as a seamstress[28] peddler, selling lace and linens that she carried from door to door. Gibran started school on September 30, 1895. School officials placed him in a special class for immigrants to learn English. Gibran also enrolled in an art school at Denison House, a nearby settlement house. Through his teachers there, he was introduced to the avant-garde Boston artist, photographer, and publisher Fred Holland Day,[9] who encouraged and supported Gibran in his creative endeavors. A publisher used some of Gibran's drawings for book covers in 1898.

Gibran's mother, along with his elder brother Peter, wanted him to absorb more of his own heritage rather than just the Western aesthetic culture he was attracted to.[28] Thus, at the age of 15, Gibran returned to his homeland to study at a Maronite-run preparatory school and higher-education institute in Beirut, called "al-Hikma" (The Wisdom). He started a student literary magazine with a classmate and was elected 'college poet'. He stayed there for several years before returning to Boston in 1902, coming through Ellis Island (a second time) on May 10.[31] Two weeks before he returned to Boston, his sister Sultana died of tuberculosis at fourteen years old. The year after, Peter died of the same disease and his mother died of cancer. His sister Mariana supported Gibran and herself by working at a dressmaker's shop.[9]

Debuts, growing fame, and personal lifeEdit

Gibran held his first art exhibition of his drawings in 1904 in Boston at Day's studio.[9] During this exhibition, Gibran met Elizabeth Haskell, a respected headmistress ten years his senior. The two formed an important friendship that lasted the rest of Gibran's life. Haskell spent large sums of money to support Gibran and edited all his English writings. The nature of their romantic relationship remains obscure; while some biographers assert the two were lovers[32] but never married because Haskell's family objected,[33] other evidence suggests that their relationship never was physically consummated.[9] Gibran and Haskell were engaged briefly but Gibran called it off. Gibran didn't intend to marry her while he had affairs with other women. Haskell later married another man, but then she continued to support Gibran financially and to use her influence to advance his career.[34] She became his editor, and introduced him to Charlotte Teller, a journalist, and Emilie Michel (Micheline), a French teacher, who accepted to pose for him as a model and became close friends.[35]

Plaque at 14 Avenue du Maine, 15th arrondissement of Paris, where Gibran lived from 1908 to 1910

In 1908, Gibran went to study art in Paris for two years. He attended the Académie Julian[36] art school, pursuing a symbolist and romantic style over the then up-and-coming realism.[citation needed] While there he met his art study partner and lifelong friend Youssef Howayek.[37]

Khalil Gibran (The Borzoi, 1920)

From 1911 until his death in 1931, Gibran lived in a New York City artist studio at 51 West 10th Street.[38] While most of Gibran's early writings were in Arabic, most of his work published after 1918 was in English. His first book for the publishing company Alfred A. Knopf, in 1918, was The Madman, a slim volume of aphorisms and parables written in biblical cadence somewhere between poetry and prose. Gibran also took part in the New York Pen League, also known as the "immigrant poets" (al-mahjar), alongside important Lebanese-American authors such as Ameen Rihani, Elia Abu Madi, and Mikhail Naimy, a close friend and distinguished master of Arabic literature, whose descendants Gibran declared to be his own children, and whose nephew Samir is a godson of Gibran.

In 1923, his book The Prophet was published, an early example of inspirational fiction including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose. The book sold well despite a cool critical reception. It would gain popularity in the 1930s and again especially in the 1960s counterculture.[33][9]


Gibran died at St. Vincent's Hospital, Manhattan, on April 10, 1931, at the age of 48. The causes were cirrhosis of the liver and tuberculosis due to prolonged serious alcoholism. Gibran started drinking seriously during or after publication of The Prophet. Several years before his death, he locked himself in his apartment, away from visitors, drinking all day. Gibran expressed the wish that he be buried in Lebanon.

This wish was fulfilled in 1932, when Mary Haskell and his sister Mariana purchased the Mar Sarkis Monastery in Lebanon, which has since become the Gibran Museum. Written next to Gibran's grave are the words "a word I want to see written on my grave: I am alive like you, and I am standing beside you. Close your eyes and look around, you will see me in front of you."[39]

Gibran willed the contents of his studio to Mary Haskell. There she discovered her letters to him spanning twenty-three years. She initially agreed to burn them because of their intimacy, but recognizing their historical value she saved them. She gave them, along with his letters to her which she had also saved, to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library before she died in 1964. Excerpts of the over 600 letters were published in "Beloved Prophet" in 1972.

The Gibran Museum and Gibran's final resting place, in Bsharri

Mary Haskell Minis (she wed Jacob Florance Minis in 1923) donated her personal collection of nearly one hundred original works of art by Gibran to the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia in 1950. Haskell had been thinking of placing her collection at the Telfair as early as 1914. In a letter to Gibran, she wrote "I am thinking of other museums ... the unique little Telfair Gallery in Savannah, Ga., that Gari Melchers chooses pictures for. There when I was a visiting child, form burst upon my astonished little soul." Haskell's gift to the Telfair is the largest public collection of Gibran's visual art in the country, consisting of five oils and numerous works on paper rendered in the artist's lyrical style, which reflects the influence of symbolism. The future American royalties to his books were willed to his hometown of Bsharri, to be "used for good causes".




Title Publisher Location Date Language Translated title
نبذة في فن الموسيقى المهاجر New York 1905 Arabic A Profile of the Art of Music
الأرواح المتمردة المهاجر New York 1908 Arabic Rebellious Souls
الأجنحة المتكسرة مرآة الغرب New York 1912 Arabic Broken Wings
دمعة وابتسامة Atlantic New York 1914 Arabic A Tear and a Smile
The Madman Alfred A. Knopf New York 1918 English
المواكب مرآة الغرب New York 1919 Arabic The Processions
Twenty Drawings Alfred A. Knopf New York 1919 English
العواصف الهلال Cairo 1920 Arabic The Tempests
The Forerunner Alfred A. Knopf New York 1920 English
البدائع والطرائف المطبعة العصرية Cairo 1923 Arabic The New and the Marvellous
The Prophet Alfred A. Knopf New York 1923 English
Sand and Foam Alfred A. Knopf New York 1926 English
Jesus, the Son of Man Alfred A. Knopf New York 1928 English
The Earth Gods Alfred A. Knopf New York 1931 English
The Wanderer Alfred A. Knopf New York 1932 (posthumous) English
The Garden of the Prophet
(revised by Mary Haskell then Barbara Young)
Alfred A. Knopf New York 1933
Lazarus and his Beloved New York Graphic Society Greenwich 1973
The Blind The Westminster Press Philadelphia 1981
The Banshee (unfinished) English
The Last Unction (unfinished) English
The Hunchback or the Man Unseen (unfinished) English
Poem for Albert Pinkham Ryder
(printed privately in 1915 at Cosmus & Washburn)

Writings published in periodicals:

Title Periodical Location Date Language Translated title
أيها الليل Al-Funoon New York 04-1913 Arabic[40] O Night!
على باب الهيكل Al-Funoon New York 06-1913 Arabic[41] At the Temple's Gate
يا زمان الحب Al-Funoon New York 06-1913 Arabic[40]
قبل الانتحار Al-Funoon New York 08-1913 Arabic[42] Before committing suicide
أبو العلاء المعري Al-Funoon New York 09-1913 Arabic[40] Abu Ala Al Maari
الشاعر Al-Funoon New York 11-1913 Arabic[40] The Poet
إلى المسلمين من شاعر مسيحي Al-Funoon New York 11-1913 Arabic[43] To Muslims from a Christian Poet
أنت وأنا Al-Funoon New York 12-1913 Arabic[40] You and I
رؤيا Al-Funoon New York 06-1916 Arabic[44] Vision
يا نفس Al-Funoon New York 06-1916 Arabic[40] O Wind!
الليل والمجنون Al-Funoon New York 07-1916 Arabic[40] Night and the Madman
الفارض Al-Funoon New York 07-1916 Arabic[40] The Imposer
بالله يا قلبي Al-Funoon New York 08-1916 Arabic[40] By God, my Heart
ما وراء الرداء Al-Funoon New York 09-1916 Arabic[44] Beyond the Robe
مات أهلي Al-Funoon New York 10-1916 Arabic[40] Dead Are My People
السم في الدسم Al-Funoon New York 11-1916 Arabic[44] Poison in the Fat
Night and the Madman The Seven Arts New York 11-1916 English
بالأمس Al-Funoon New York 12-1916 Arabic[40] Yesterday
The Greater Sea The Seven Arts New York 12-1916 English
الفلكي Al-Funoon New York 01-1917 Arabic[40] The Astronomer
The Astronomer The Seven Arts New York 01-1917 English
On Giving and Taking The Seven Arts New York 01-1917 English
النملات الثلاث Al-Funoon New York 02-1917 Arabic[40] The Three Ants
الكلب الحكيم Al-Funoon New York 02-1917 Arabic[40] The Wise Dog
The Seven Selves The Seven Arts New York 02-1917 English
أغنية الليل Al-Funoon New York 03-1917 Arabic[40] Song of the Night
البحر الأعظم Al-Funoon New York 03-1917 Arabic[40] The Great Sea
الله Al-Funoon New York 04-1917 Arabic[40] God
يا صاحبي Al-Funoon New York 05-1917 Arabic[40] My Companion
Poems from the Arabic The Seven Arts New York 05-1917 English
البنفسجة الطموحة Al-Funoon New York 08-1917 Arabic[40] The Ambitious Violet
الغزالي Al-Funoon New York 09-1917 Arabic[40] Al-Ghazali
العاصفة Al-Funoon New York 09-1917 Arabic[40] The Tempest
بلأمس واليوم وغدا Al-Funoon New York 10-1917 Arabic[40] Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
موشحات جديدة : البحر ؛ الشرورة ؛ الجبار الرئبال ؛ الشهرة Al-Funoon New York 10-1917 Arabic[45] New verses / The Sea / Fame
ابن سينا وقصيدته Al-Funoon New York 10-1917 Arabic[40] Avicenna and his Poem
الأرض Al-Funoon New York 10-1917 Arabic[40] The Earth
الحكيمان Al-Funoon New York 11-1917 Arabic[40] The Wise Man
بين الفصل والفصل Al-Funoon New York 11-1917 Arabic[45] Between chapter and chapter
Al-Funoon New York 06-1918 Arabic[45]
الأمم وذواتها Al-Funoon New York 08-1918 Arabic[45] The World and Itself
Al-Funoon New York 08-1918 Arabic[45]
War and the Small Nations The Borzoi New York 1920 English
Seven Sayings The Dial New York 01-1921 English[46]
Lullaby The New Orient New York 07-1925 English[46]
The Blind Poet The New Orient New York 07-1926 English[46]
To Young Americans of Syrian Origin The Syrian World New York 07-1926 English
Youth and Age The Syrian World New York 12-1926 English
(Syrian Folk Songs:) O Mother Mine (Moulaya)


The Syrian World New York 03-1927 English
(Syrian Folk Songs:) I wandered among the Mountains


The Syrian World New York 05-1927 English
(Syrian Folk Songs:) Three Maiden Lovers


The Syrian World New York 09-1927 English
The Two Hermits The Syrian World New York 10-1927 English
When My Sorrow Was Born The Syrian World New York 12-1927 English
War The Syrian World New York 01-1928 English
Said a Blade of Grass The Syrian World New York 03-1928 English
Critics The Syrian World New York 04-1928 English
War and the Small Nations The Syrian World New York 05-1928 English
Love The Syrian World New York 06-1928 English
The King of Aradus The Syrian World New York 09-1928 English
The Plutocrat The Syrian World New York 10-1928 English
A Man from Lebanon Nineteen Centuries Afterward The Syrian World New York 11-1928 English
The Great Recurrence New York Herald Tribune Magazine New York 23-12-1928 English[46]
Night The Syrian World New York 12-1928 English
Defeat The Syrian World New York 01-1929 English
The Great Longing The Syrian World New York 02-1929 English
The Saint The Syrian World New York 03-1929 English
Fame The Syrian World New York 04-1929 English
Out of My Deeper Heart The Syrian World New York 05-1929 English
Snow New York Herald Tribune Magazine New York 22-12-1929 English[46]
The Two Learned Men The Syrian World New York 01-1930 English
On Giving and Taking The Syrian World New York 03-1930 English
Helpfulness The Syrian World New York 04-1930 English
On the Art of Writing The Syrian World New York 05-1930 English
On Hatred The Syrian World New York 06-1930 English
Greatness The Syrian World New York 09-1930 English
The Tragic Love of a Caliph The Syrian World New York 10-1930 English
On Giving and Taking The Syrian World New York 10-1930 English
Song The Syrian World New York 12-1930 English
A Marvel and a Riddle The Syrian World New York 01-1931 English
Past and Future The Syrian World New York 02-1931 English
Speech and Silence The Syrian World New York 03-1931 English


  • Beloved Prophet, The love letters of Khalil Gibran and Mary Haskell, and her private journal (1972, edited by Virginia Hilu)


  • Prose Poems (1934)
  • Secrets of the Heart (1947)
  • A Treasury of Kahlil Gibran (1951)
  • A Self-Portrait (1959)
  • Thoughts and Meditations (1960)
  • A Second Treasury of Kahlil Gibran (1962)
  • Spiritual Sayings (1962)
  • Voice of the Master (1963)
  • Mirrors of the Soul (1965)
  • Between Night & Morn (1972)
  • A Third Treasury of Kahlil Gibran (1975)
  • The Storm (1994)
  • The Beloved (1994)
  • The Vision (1994)
  • Eye of the Prophet (1995)
  • The Treasured Writings of Kahlil Gibran (1995)

Style and recurring themesEdit

Gibran was a great admirer of poet and writer Francis Marrash,[47][48] whose works he had studied at al-Hikma school in Beirut.[49] According to orientalist Shmuel Moreh, Gibran's own works echo Marrash's style, many of his ideas, and at times even the structure of some of his works;[50] Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins have mentioned Marrash's concept of universal love, in particular, in having left a "profound impression" on Gibran.[49] The poetry of Gibran often uses formal language and spiritual terms; as one of his poems reveals: "But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls." [51]

Many of Gibran's writings deal with Christianity, especially on the topic of spiritual love. But his mysticism is a convergence of several different influences: Christianity, Islam, Judaism and theosophy. He wrote: "You are my brother and I love you. I love you when you prostrate yourself in your mosque, and kneel in your church and pray in your synagogue. You and I are sons of one faith—the Spirit.".[52]

In the Arab world, Gibran is regarded as a literary rebel. His romantic style was at the heart of a renaissance in modern Arabic literature, especially prose poetry, breaking away from the classical school. In Lebanon, he is still celebrated as a literary hero.[33]

Visual artEdit

His more than seven hundred images include portraits of his friends W.B. Yeats, Carl Jung and Auguste Rodin.[33] A possible Gibran painting was the subject of a September 2008 episode of the PBS TV series History Detectives. His drawings were collected by Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha.

Religious viewsEdit

Gibran was born into a Maronite Christian family and raised in Maronite schools. He was influenced not only by his own religion but also by Islam, and especially by the mysticism of the Sufis. His knowledge of Lebanon's bloody history, with its destructive factional struggles, strengthened his belief in the fundamental unity of religions, which his parents exemplified by welcoming people of various religions in their home.[49] Themes of influence in his work were Islamic/Arabic art, European Classicism and Romanticism (William Blake and Auguste Rodin), pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and more modern symbolism and surrealism.[53] Major personal influences on Gibran include Fred Holland Day, Josephine Preston Peabody[54] who called Gibran himself a "prophet", and Mary Haskell who was his patron. Gibran also worked with St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery on a number of occasions[55] both in terms of art like his drawings and readings of his work,[56][57] and in religious matters.[58]

In 1908, at the age of 25, Gibran was formally excommunicated by the Maronite Catholic Church following the publication of Rebellious Spirits, a novel deeply critical of secular and spiritual authority.[59] Following Gibran's international success as an author and poet, his excommunication was lifted after his death in 1931.[60]

Gibran had a number of strong connections to the Bahá'í Faith. One of Gibran's acquaintances later in life, Juliet Thompson, reported several anecdotes relating to Gibran. She recalled Gibran had met `Abdu'l-Bahá, the leader of the religion at the time of his visit to the United States, c. 1911 – c. 1912.[26][61] Gibran was unable to sleep the night before meeting him in person to draw his portrait.[49][62] Thompson reported Gibran later saying that all the way through writing Jesus, the Son of Man, he thought of `Abdu'l-Bahá. Years later, after the death of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Gibran gave a talk on religion with Bahá'ís[58] and at another event with a viewing of a movie of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Gibran rose to talk and proclaimed in tears an exalted station of `Abdu'l-Bahá and left the event weeping.[61] A noted scholar on Gibran is Suheil Bushrui from Gibran's native Lebanon, also a Bahá'í,[63] published more than one volume about him[49][64] and served as the Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace at the University of Maryland[33][65] and winner of the Juliet Hollister Awards from the Temple of Understanding.[66]

Political thoughtEdit

Gibran was by no means a politician. He used to say: "I am not a politician, nor do I wish to become one" and "Spare me the political events and power struggles, as the whole earth is my homeland and all men are my fellow countrymen."[67]

Nevertheless, Gibran called for the adoption of Arabic as a national language of Syria, considered from a geographic point of view, not as a political entity.[68] When Gibran met `Abdu'l-Bahá in 1911–12, who traveled to the United States partly to promote peace, Gibran admired the teachings on peace but argued that "young nations like his own" be freed from Ottoman control.[26] Gibran also wrote the famous "Pity the Nation" poem during these years, posthumously published in The Garden of the Prophet.[69]

When the Ottomans were eventually driven from Syria during World War I, Gibran sketched a euphoric drawing "Free Syria" which was then printed on the special edition cover of the Arabic-language paper As-Sayeh (The Traveler) (founded in New York by Abd al-Masih Haddad in 1912[70]); this play, according to Khalil Hawi, "defines Gibran's belief in Syrian nationalism with great clarity, distinguishing it from both Lebanese and Arab nationalism, and showing us that nationalism lived in his mind, even at this late stage, side by side with internationalism."[71][72] He was considered a rebel in the Arab world.[citation needed]

Memorials and honorsEdit

Bust of Gibran in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (left), and Yerevan, Armenia (right)


Gibran's best-known work is The Prophet, a book composed of twenty-six poetic essays. Its popularity grew markedly during the 1960s with the American counterculture and then with the flowering of the New Age movements. It has remained popular with these and with the wider population to this day. Since it was first published in 1923, The Prophet has never been out of print. Having been translated into more than 108 languages, making it among the top ten most translated books in history[78] it was one of the best-selling books of the twentieth century in the United States.

Elvis Presley was deeply affected by Gibran's The Prophet after receiving his first copy in 1956. He reportedly read passages to his mother and over the years gave away copies of "The Prophet" to friends and colleagues. Photographs of his hand-written notes under certain passages throughout his copy are archived on various Museum web-sites.

One of his most notable lines of poetry is from "Sand and Foam" (1926), which reads: "Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you". This line was used by John Lennon and placed, though in a slightly altered form, into the song "Julia" from the Beatles' 1968 album The Beatles (A.K.A. "The White Album").[79]

Johnny Cash recorded Gibran's "The Eye of the Prophet" as an audio cassette book, and Cash can be heard talking about Gibran's work on a track called "Book Review" on his album Unearthed.

British singer David Bowie mentioned Gibran in the song "The Width of a Circle" from Bowie's 1970 album The Man Who Sold the World. Bowie used Gibran as a "hip reference",[80] because Gibran's work "A Tear and a Smile" became popular in the hippy counterculture of the 1960s. In 2016 Gibran's fable On Death was composed in Hebrew by Gilad Hochman to the unique setting of soprano, theorbo and percussion and premiered in France under the title River of Silence.[81]


  1. ^ Due to a mistake made by the Josiah Quincy School of Boston after his immigration to the United States with his mother and siblings (see below), he was registered as Kahlil Gibran, the spelling he used thenceforth.[2] Other sources use Khalil Gibran, reflecting the typical English spelling of the forename Khalil. In academic contexts, his name is sometimes spelled Jubrān Khalīl Jubrān,[3][4] Jibrān Khalīl Jibrān,[3][5] or, more rarely, Jibrān Xalīl Jibrān.[6]
  2. ^ He himself is also considered to be the third-best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Laozi.[9]


  1. ^ "Gibran". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  2. ^ a b Gibran 1998: 29
  3. ^ a b Starkey, Paul (2006). Modern Arabic Literature. The New Edinburgh Islamic Surveys. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-7486-1291-8.
  4. ^ Allen, Roger (2000). An Introduction to Arabic Literature. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. p. 255. ISBN 978-0-521-77230-3.
  5. ^ Badawi, M.M., ed. (1992). Modern Arabic Literature. The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 559. ISBN 978-0-521-33197-5.
  6. ^ Cachia, Pierre (2002). Arabic Literature—An Overview. Culture and Civilization in the Middle East. London: RoutledgeCurzon. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-7007-1725-5.
  7. ^ Hiba Moussa (2006). "(Re)Viewing Gibran and The Prophet on Stage". Gibran K. Gibran : pionnier de la renaissance à venir (1931-2006). p. 207.
  8. ^ Wahib Kairouz. Gibran in His Museum. p. 107.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Acocella, Joan (January 7, 2008). "Prophet Motive". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 9, 2009.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Suheil Bushrui; Joe Jenkins. Kahlil Gibran: Man and Poet.
  12. ^ The Arab World. p. 11.
  13. ^ Suheil Bushrui; Joe Jenkins. Kahlil Gibran: Man and Poet.
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  • Bawardi, Hani J. (2015). The Making of Arab Americans: From Syrian Nationalism to U.S. Citizenship (1st ed.). Texas: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-1-47730-752-6.
  • Gibran, Jean; Kahlil Gibran (1998) [1981]. Kahlil Gibran: His Life and World. Salma Khadra Jayyusi (foreword). New York: Interlink Books. ISBN 978-1-56656-249-2.
  • Waterfield, Robin (1998). Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran. St. Martin's Press.
  • Najjar, Alexandre, "Kahlil Gibran, a biography", Saqi, 2008.
  • Khalil Gibran and Ameen Rihani: Prophets of Lebanese-American Literature. Ed. by Naji B. Oueijan, et al. Louaize: Notre Dame Press, 1999.
  • Poeti arabi a New York. Il circolo di Gibran, introduzione e traduzione di F. Medici, prefazione di A. Salem, Palomar, Bari 2009. ISBN 978-88-7600-340-0.
  • Daniel S. Larangé, Poétique de la fable chez Khalil Gibran (1883–1931): Les avatars d'un genre littéraire et musical: le maqam, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2005.
  • Kahlil Gibran Beyond Borders Jean Gibran and Kahlil Gibran; with a foreword by Salma Hayek-Pinault published 2017 • 7" x 9" • 512 pp. • b&w illustrations throughout. ISBN 978-1-56656-093-1
  • The Kahlil Gibran Collective - The Artist, The Man, The Poet

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit