“I am like thee, O, Night, dark and naked; I walk on the flaming path which is above my day-dreams, and whenever my foot touches earth a giant oak tree comes forth.”
“Nay, thou art not like me, O, Madman, for thou still lookest backward to see how large a foot-print thou leavest on the sand.”
“I am like thee, O, Night, silent and deep; and in the heart of my loneliness lies a Goddess in child-bed; and in him who is being born Heaven touches Hell.”
“Nay, thou art not like me, O, Madman, for thou shudderest yet before pain, and the song of the abyss terrifies thee.”
“I am like thee, O, Night, wild and terrible; for my ears are crowded with cries of conquered nations and sighs for forgotten lands.”
“Nay, thou art not like me, O, Madman, for thou still takest thy little-self for a comrade, and with thy monster-self thou canst not be friend.”
“I am like thee, O, Night, cruel and awful; for my bosom is lit by burning ships at sea, and my lips are wet with blood of slain warriors.”
“Nay, thou art not like me, O, Madman; for the desire for a sister-spirit is yet upon thee, and thou has not become a low unto thyself.”
“I am like thee, O, Night, joyous and glad; for he who dwells in my shadow is now drunk with virgin wine, and she who follows me is sinning mirthfully.”
“Nay, thou art not like me, O, Madman, for thy soul is wrapped in the veil of seven folds and thou holdest not they heart in Thine hand.”
“I am like thee, O, Night, patient and passionate; for in my breast a thousand dead lovers are buried in shrouds of withered kisses.”
“Yea, Madman, art thou like me? Art thou like me? And canst thou ride the tempest as a steed, and grasp the lightning as a sword?”
“Like thee, O, Night, like thee, mighty and high, and my throne is built upon heaps of fallen Gods; and before me too pass the days to kiss the hem of my garment but never to gaze at my face.”
“Art thou like me, child of my darkest heart? And dost thou think my untamed thoughts and speak my vast language?”
“Yea, we are twin brothers, O, Night; for thou revealest space and I reveal my soul.”
About Kahlil Gibran
Khalil Gibran (جبران خليل جبران) was a writer, visual artist, and poet with a prolific collection of work. He was born in 1883 in a village in the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate and in 1893 moved with his family to the United States where he enrolled in school in Boston, then went back home when he was fifteen to enroll in the Collège de la Sagesse. In 1902 he came back to Boston, and two years later his artwork was displayed for the first time. In 1905 he published his first book, and after that studied art in Paris for three years. Gibran wrote books in both Arabic and English, including poems, plays, fables, short stories, and political essays.
His cousin, Kahlil G. Gibran, a sculptor, described his work in this way. “Ignoring much of the traditional vocabulary and form of classical Arabic, he began to develop a style which reflected the ordinary language he had heard as a child in Besharri and to which he was still exposed in the South End [of Boston]. This use of the colloquial was more a product of his isolation than of a specific intent, but it appealed to thousands of Arab immigrants.” (Robin Waterfield, 1998) He was inspired by the King James Bible, the works of William Blake, whose drawings were in Gibran’s opinion “so far the profoundest things done in English.” (Joseph Ghougassian, 1973) Other inspirations included Francis Marrash (فرنسيس بن فتح الله بن نصر الله مرّاش), Walt Whitman, and Friedrich Nietzsche.
With visual art Gibran worked in oils, pencil, ink, watercolor, and gouache, and created more than seven hundred pieces of visual art. His work is featured in a number of museums, and his work The Prophet has been translated into more than 100 languages and has never been out of print, becoming popular in the American counterculture and New Age movement. The book was admired by Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, David Bowie, Gilad Hochman (גילעד הוכמן) and Dana Al Fardan. Gibran has museums, memorials, schools, a garden, and a crater on Mercury named after him.
I hope you enjoyed Night and the Madman by Kahlil Gibran! If you liked Night and the Madman by Kahlil Gibran, you might enjoy more poems by him below.
“Stunning…from start to finish. Barkat is a fierce new voice.”