The Broken Wings . pdf
I was eighteen years of age when love opened my eyes with its magic rays and touched my spirit for the first
time with its fiery fingers, and Selma Karamy was the first woman who awakened my spirit with her beauty
and led me into the garden of high affection, where days pass like dreams and nights like weddings.
Selma Karamy was the one who taught me to worship beauty by the example of her own beauty and revealed
to me the secret of love by her affection; se was the one who first sang to me the poetry of real life.
Every young man remembers his first love and tries to recapture that strange hour, the memory of which
changes his deepest feeling and makes him so happy in spite of all the bitterness of its mystery.
In every young man’s life there is a “Selma” who appears to him suddenly while in the spring of life and
transforms his solitude into happy moments and fills the silence of his nights with music.
I was deeply engrossed in thought and contemplation and seeking to understand the meaning of nature and the
revelation of books and scriptures when I heard LOVE whispered into my ears through Selma’s lips. My life
was a coma, empty like that of Adam’s in Paradise, when I saw Selma standing before me like a column of
light. She was the Eve of my heart who filled it with secrets and wonders and made me understand the
meaning of life.
The first Eve led Adam out of Paradise by her own will, while Selma made me enter willingly into the
paradise of pure love and virtue by her sweetness and love; but what happened to the first man also happened
to me, and the fiery word which chased Adam out of Paradise was like the one which frightened me by its
glittering edge and forced me away from paradise of my love without having disobeyed any order or tasted the fruit of the forbidden tree.
Today, after many years have passed, I have nothing left out of that beautiful dream except painful memories
flapping like invisible wings around me, filling the depths of my heart with sorrow, and bringing tears to my
eyes; and my beloved, beautiful Selma, is dead and nothing is left to commemorate her except my broken
heart and tomb surrounded by cypress trees. That tomb and this heart are all that is left to bear witness of
The silence that guards the tomb does not reveal God’s secret in the obscurity of the coffin, and the rustling of the branches whose roots suck the body’s elements do not tell the mysteries of the grave, by the agonized
sighs of my heart announce to the living the drama which love, beauty, and death have performed.
Oh, friends of my youth who are scattered in the city of Beirut, when you pass by the cemetery near the pine
forest, enter it silently and walk slowly so the tramping of your feet will not disturb the slumber of the dead,
and stop humbly by Selma’s tomb and greet the earth that encloses her corpse and mention my name with
deep sigh and say to yourself, “here, all the hopes of Gibran, who is living as prisoner of love beyond the seas, were buried. On this spot he lost his happiness, drained his tears, and forgot his smile.”
By that tomb grows Gibran’s sorrow together with the cypress trees, and above the tomb his spirit flickers
every night commemorating Selma, joining the branches of the trees in sorrowful wailing, mourning and
lamenting the going of Selma, who, yesterday was a beautiful tune on the lips of life and today is a silent
secret in the bosom of the earth.
My neighbours, you remember the dawn of youth with pleasure and regret its passing; but I remember it like a prisoner who recalls the bars and shackles of his jail. You speak of those years between infancy and youth as a golden era free from confinement and cares, but I call those years an era of silent sorrow which dropped as aseed into my heart and grew with it and could find no outlet to the world of Knowledge and wisdom until lovecame and opened the heart’s doors and lighted its corners. Love provided me with a tongue and tears. You people remember the gardens and orchids and the meeting places and street corners that witnessed your games and heard your innocent whispering; and I remember, too, the beautiful spot in North Lebanon. Every time I close my eyes I see those valleys full of magic and dignity and those mountains covered with glory and greatness trying to reach the sky. Every time I shut my ears to the clamour of the city I hear the murmur of the rivulets and the rustling of the branches. All those beauties which I speak of now and which I long to see, as a child longs for his mother’s breast, wounded my spirit, imprisoned in the darkness of youth, as a falcon suffers in its cage when it sees a flock of birds flying freely in the spacious sky. Those valleys and hills fired my imagination, but bitter thoughts wove round my heart a net of hopelessness.
Every time I went to the fields I returned disappointed, without understanding the cause of my
disappointment. Every time I looked at the grey sky I felt my heart contract. Every time I heard the singing of
the birds and babbling of the spring I suffered without understanding the reason for my suffering. It is said
that unsophistication makes a man empty and that emptiness makes him carefree. It may be true among those
who were born dead and who exist like frozen corpses; but the sensitive boy who feels much and . . .
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