The third bestselling poet of all times, Khalil Gibran was also an artist, philosopher and writer. This multi talented personality became the pride of Arabic speaking people all over the world who considered him to be a genius of his time. His fame and work, however, extended way beyond the Arab world making him one of the most important figures in literature and art.
Gubran Khalil Gubran was born in Bsharri, Lebanon on January 6, 1883 to a Maronite Catholic family. Gibran was the son of Khalil who was the third husband of his mother Kamila. Khalil’s irresponsible behavior towards his family led them to poverty and suffering due to which Gibran did not undergo any formal education initially but was frequently visited by priests who taught him about the Bible, Arabic and other Syriac languages. When his father was completely unable to support the family after being imprisoned for fraudulent activities, Kamila decided to move to the United States in 1895 with Gibran and his siblings, Marina, Sultana and Peter.
After settling down in Boston, Gibran was enrolled in school where he was registered under the name Khalil Gibran by mistake. The name remained with him forever, becoming his identity. Gibran also attended an art school where he met for the first time avant-garde artist, photographer and publisher, Fred Holland Day who mentored and encouraged Gibran’s artistic sense. For a brief period of time in his teenage years, Gibran was sent back to Lebanon where he studied at an institute for higher education in Beirut. He founded a literary magazine and was better known as the college poet. Gibran returned to Boston when his sister died of tuberculosis followed by his brother’s death due to the same disease a year later. After their mother too died of cancer, Gibran’s sister, Marianna supported the two of them.
1907 onwards, Gibran embarked on his artistic and literary career. He held several art exhibitions and developed lifelong friendships on the course with important people such as Mary Elizabeth Haskell, Charlotte Teller, Emilie Michel, Youssef Howayek and Mikhail Naimy. In 1908, Gibran set off to Paris for two years to study art.
Although Gibran’s early works of writing are in Arabic, most of his work published after 1918 is in the English language. Khalil Gibran’s writing mostly revolves around spirituality and religions such as Christianity, Islam, Islamic Sufism, Hinduism and theosophy. His formal writing style and profound verses explaining the mysteries of spirituality and life have captivated people all around the world. His most famous work, The Prophet is a collection of twenty-six poetic essays. It serves as an important part of the American counterculture and the New Age movements. It was among the bestselling books of the 20th century, never going out of print since its release in 1923. The Prophet has been translated into more than 40 languages. Some other important works of Khalil Gibran include al-Mawakib, al-‘Awāsif, The Madman, The Prophet, Sand and Foam, Jesus, The Son of Man, The Earth Gods, The Wanderer, Secrets of the Heart, Voice of the Master, The Beloved and Eye of The Prophet.
Khalil Gibran died of liver cirrhosis and tuberculosis on April 10, 1931 in New York City. He was buried in Lebanon upon his wish. Today, several memorials and honors exist all over the world in to remember and pay accreditation to this legendry talent.