“A Tear and a Smile” (a tribute & audio poem)

Two passions become one when I listen to his words while looking through my lens at scenes found in natural settings. Natural details that he captured with an artist’s eye and retold with a pen over one hundred years ago. Separated by time and distance, I am connected to him through his simple and direct words. Words that calm my mind and remind my heart that it is the wiser of the two organs. This he clearly knew, as artists often do.

In this moment, I wish to stay. I can listen to his words again and again, just as I can return to the same flower again and again. Each time finding something new, both in myself and on the stem. On this day, standing on wet grass far from familiar land, with droplets gently falling, my eyes delight in the delicate flowers washed by purifying rains, as his “life of a flower” line gently washes away the illusion of separation between me and the flowers, between my heart and brain, between me and him… between every living thing.

His words I do hear, but not his voice. I imagine what the poet may have sounded like when he penned these words in 1908 while studying art in Paris. Words that not only inspire, but instruct, for I cannot listen to his poem without crying and smiling.

Writer, poet, and painter, Kahlil Gibran, who is considered “a key figure in a Romantic movement that transformed Arabic literature in the first half of the twentieth century” wrote “A Tear and a Smile” in 1908 in Paris on his 25th birthday. His prose poem is part of a larger collection of work, first published in 1914, that shares the name of the featured poem. Gibran studied art in Paris at the AcadΓ©mie Julian from 1908 to 1910 and it is there that he discovered the work of William Blake and Friedrich Nietzsche.

His most popular book, The Prophet, did not receive praise from the critics of his time, who favored the writing styles of James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, and Ernest Hemingway. To date, The Prophet has sold over nine million copies since its 1923 publication.

Gibran was born in Lebanon in 1883 and immigrated to New York in 1895 with his mom and siblings. They settled in “the teeming immigrant slums” of Boston’s South End, where he attended school and his mother worked as a seamstress. It is there he was given the American spelling of his birth name, Jubran Khalil Jubran, and where he learned to speak and write in English. He continued his education in Lebanon, returning to the U.S. in 1902 after his sister died of TB. His sensitivity to natural beauty is attributed to the “magnificent setting of impoverished Bisharri above the Qadisha Valley on the slopes of Mount Lebanon.”

“His power came from some great reservoir of spiritual life else it could not have been so universal and so potent, but the majesty and beauty of the language with which he clothed it were all his own.”

~ Claude Bragdon

Thank you for reading and listening. Be well. πŸ’— Michele

References: Poetry Foundation, Kahlil Gibran, digital archive, and Kahlil Gibran, Wikipedia.

Nature photos: my images

Β© 2021 Michele Lee Sefton.

65 thoughts on ““A Tear and a Smile” (a tribute & audio poem)

  1. asumoftheparts

    β€œA jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou beside me in the wilderness, oh wilderness…

    I memorized a good bit of this poem while in high schoolβ€”oh, so many years ago, and remember this to this day. He was influential, as so many poets and writers were to my life. I’m so blessed to have spent my adult life immersed in great literature, and sharing it with young people.

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this truly inspirational poem, Michele. I can appreciate your passion for the poetic prose penned by Kahlil Gibran, and I’ve also enjoyed your lovely wildflower photography in the rain. Your eyes both capture the beauty of nature, and exude an uncommon beauty, as well. πŸ‘€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was my pleasure to share Gibran’s moving poem. Thank you, Phil, for appreciating my poetic and photographic shares. A delight to listen to and capture with my lens. You are very kind, I share my late father’s love of photography and his eyes. I miss him and his eyes. πŸ’š

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Michele dawlink, your opening storyline is a great intro into Kahlil Gibran’s beautiful and soul-stirring poem. πŸ€— I agree with you, that poem is truly an emotional one. Your story, however, sounds like the opening scene to a movie where the narrator is the central character of the film. You rock ladybug! 🀩 πŸ₯³ 😎 I adore this and thanks so much for sharing literature so magnificent and powerful!!! πŸ‘πŸΌ πŸ™ŒπŸΌ πŸ‘πŸΌ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why, thank you, Kym. 😊 I love the idea of my words being the opening scene to a movie. 🎬 😁 You rock for writing that. πŸ‘πŸΌ It was my pleasure to share Gibran’s stirring work read by a speaker with a dramatic voice. I am glad you enjoyed my post. I appreciate you and your heartfelt words.πŸ’–

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I adore this post and tribute to one of my absolute favorite poets of all time. Khalil’s work is life altering, and timeless. I’m so inspired right now, I’ll be pulling one of my Gibran books down and reading some of the magic you’ve written of in this lovely post before bed. Your writing is inspirational. I love to read you, Michele. ❀️πŸ₯°

    Like

    1. So wonderful to read. Thank you, Jeff. πŸ™πŸΌ I can feel your genuine passion for Gibran’s work and love that you are inspired to read more. I am sure that inspiration will show up soon in your own writing. πŸ’–βœπŸΌ ✨ Thank you for reading. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing this with us Michele. It was indeed a divine poem by Khalil. Your photos always make me smile and brighten my day. Thank you for capturing the beauty of our world. Stay blessed dear MicheleπŸ’–πŸ™πŸŒΉ

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s