A Visit To Khalil Gibran’s Hometown

Who doesn’t know Gibran Khalil Gibran? He was one of the most famous poets in the Arab world and known as the third best-selling poets after Shakespeare and Lao-tzu. My first encounter with his poems was when I was still a high school student, in May 2004, one of my classmates gave me “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran as a birthday present. At that time I was into beautiful words by Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson. Getting a book by Khalil Gibran was a turning point in my life that would later drive me to study literature in university.

The Lebanese-American artist was born in Bcharreh, Mount Lebanon on January 6, 1883. Gibran and his sisters, Mariana and Sultana, were brought to United States by his mother in 1895 for a better living. During his lifetime Gibran studied in Boston and Paris and he was known for his poems and paintings. But in his last days, Gibran requested to be buried in his birthplace in Bcharreh. I was wondering why didn’t he want to be buried in the states, where he spent most of his lifetime… So I went to Gibran Museum, which also serves as his final resting place, during my trip to Lebanon.

It was on the third day that I booked a group tour with Nakhal Tours, the local group tour organizer based in Beirut. I was lucky enough to save myself a seat for the tour to Bcharreh where the main attractions are Gibran Museum and Cedars of God. I will write about my visit to Cedars of God separately in another post later.

A lot of people were raising their eyebrows when they knew that I was about to go to Bcharreh in the winter. Because Bcharreh during the summer is pretty much cool, so it will be much cooler in the winter. The town itself is located at an altitude of 1,500 m in the Qadisha Valley. Hence, the cold weather. But for Khalil Gibran? I wouldn’t mind the weather, hehehe…

When we arrived at the museum, I could see why Khalil Gibran asked to be buried here. It was simply beautiful. I felt at peace when I saw the surrounding, the view looked like a painting. There was something about Bcharreh that made me feel connected to the nature. Khalil must had been longing to return to this town when he was in the states. This was his root… this was where he came from.. and to this place he was reunited with The Creator.

It was unfortunate that visitors were not allowed to take pictures of videos of the museum. We were only allowed to take pictures outside the museum. Apart from taking pictures or videos, other forbidden things to do in the museum were:

– Touching the paintings or other objects in the museum
– Smoking
– Carrying weapons

Another traveler from Denmark told me that this is his first time to see such remark from a museum. “I think this is the only museum in the world that really warns visitors not to carry any weapons.”

I was laughing to respond his statement. I don’t even understand why on earth anyone would bring any weapons to a museum, particularly to one that serves as a resting place for a famous poet. My thought was maybe it is due to the fact that when he was still alive, Khalil Gibran was often accused as an atheist by clergymen in Lebanon at that time. Particularly because his works criticized the gap between the rich and the poor and the socially religious people did nothing about it. Like Jesus said, “a prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown.” So this warning to not carry a weapon might be addressed to those who dislike “The Prophet” author.

My thought that maybe it was due to the fact that when he was still alive, Khalil Gibran was often criticized and accused as an atheist by clergymen in Lebanon at that time. Particularly because his works highlighted the gap between the rich and the poor and the socially religious people did nothing about it. Like Jesus said, “a prophet is honored everywhere except in his hometown.” So this warning not to carry a weapon might be addressed to those who dislike “The Prophet” author.

It was a pleasant visit to Gibran Museum. I got to know him better as a person from his poems and paintings displayed there. Some paintings were very intriguing, they made me think about a lot of things. How he was inspired to paint, the beauty of the object and the meaning behind it. I wish I had longer time to examine each one of his works.

To end this post, let me put one of Gibran’s most famous quotes with the following photo…

“If you love someone, let them go. For if they return, they were always yours. And if they don’t, they never were,” ~ Gibran Khalil Gibran.

 

 

 

[This post was originally posted on December 8, 2016 but a hacker removed all of its content from my website. Special thanks to Richard who helped me recovering this post.]

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