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Posts Tagged ‘Jubran Khalil Jubran

Who is Josephine Peabody?

Posted on March 11, 2010

Scores of women fell in love with Gibran and vice versa, in the US and abroad (France, Egypt and Lebanon) and love letters on both sides kept the post office pretty busy.

May Ziadi, a Lebanese author who settled in Egypt and who was a deeply literate, polivalent and a female activist, and respected by the literate Egyptian circles. Gibran and Miss. Ziadi swapped all kinds of letters until his death. She didn’t travel to the US to ever meet with Gibran and she wrote in one of her latest letters: “I refuse to be a mere flower in your garden

The Lebanese author Salim Mujais published “Letters of Khalil Gibran to Josephine Peabody”.

It is an Arabic book and the author decided on a new style: Gibran 82 letters are translated and Josephine diary “Psychic” is included, date to date, so that you are reading a joint diary of two people in love with no interference of the author’s opinions or comments.

When Josephine poems relates to Gibran, they are included in the daily commentary.  In addition, when Gibran’s works relate to Josephine, excerpts are attached to the joint diary.  It is unfortunate that Josephine’s letters to Gibran are still not found, although Gibran’s letters were gathered by Josephine.

Gibran (Jubran) sent her a drawing through his mentor F.H. Day with these words “To the dear unknown Josephine Peabody”.

In the meantime, Gibran had traveled to Lebanon to learn Arabic and French at the college of Hekmeh (Wise) in Beirut.  Three months later, Gibran receives an unexpected letter from Josephine.

The letter says, in weak English) something to the effect:

“Mr. Day showed me many of your drawings and paintings in his possession; we talked about you.  I felt ecstatic the whole day after seeing your drawings because I could understand you through them. 

I think your soul lives in a beautiful space.  This is the fate of people who can create beautiful things in arts; they enjoy complete happiness when they share their bread with others.  I live in an environment of noise in a crowded city.  I feel like a lost child seeking his true self.  Have you seen any deserts?  I think you listen to silence.  Forward me your news and I will tell you mine”

Gibran, still not mastering the English language, replied on Feb. 3, 1899 from Lebanon. The letter says: (words in brackets are as they were written)

“(When I received your letter) O, how happy, I was? How glad? So happy that the tongue of poor pen cannot put my joy in words. I feel (discontent) when I come to write (English), because I know not how to translate my thoughts as I want, but perhaps you (want) mind that, and I think I know enough to tell you that will keep your friendship in (midest) of my heart, and over that many miles of land and sea will always have a certain love for you and will keep the thought of you near my heart and will be no separation between you and my mind.  

You wrote in your letter “I always keep things of that sort” and for a certain thing I am just like camera and my heart is the plate. I will not forget when you spoke with me that night in Mr. Day’s exhibition.  I asked Mr. Day “Who is the lady in black?”. He said “She is miss (Beabody), a young poet and her sister is an artist”…

I wonder “do you ever sit in a dark silent room listening to the music of the rain so calm that is”… With this letter I send a little drawing for remembrance.”

The correspondence lasted till 1908.  Many letters are not dated and Josephine must have thrown away many letters during period of disagreement. Josephine died in 1922; she was married to Lionel Marx and had children.

Probably, Josephine was:

1. the first person to organize Gibran’s first drawing exhibition;

2. the first who compared Gibran drawings to Blake’s;

3. the first to translate his poems to English;

4. the first who wrote poems on Gibran;

5. the first woman in Gibran’s drawings and paintings;

6. The first woman hero and main character in Gibran written works.

Josephine Peabody was Gibran’s first true love and muse (his genie).

Josephine is the woman who made Gibran to experience love, pain, sorrows, chagrin, and ecstasy.

Born in 1874, Josephine started to publish poems in magazines at age 14.  She received a grant to study at Radcliff (1894-96).  Her first book is “Old Greek folk stories told anew, 1897”, then a book of poems “Wayfarers, 1898”.

In 1900, Josephine published a one part play “Fortune and Men’s eyes” and a poetic play “Marlowe, 1901”.  She taught at Wellesley till 1903.

Josephine Peabody married Lionel Marx and they moved to Germany where Lionel was teaching at a university.  The couple returned to Boston.

Josephine published her poetic play “The Wings” in 1907.  Josephine had her first daughter Allison in 1907 and she published a book of songs for children “Book of the Little Past” in July 1907.  

In 1909, she published the play “The Pied Piper” and won the Stratford award among 300 participants.

Josephine published “The Singing Man” in 1911 where she included the poem “The Prophet” that she had written around 1900 and in which she imagines Gibran’s childhood period.

In 1913, Josephine toured Europe, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria and published on her return “The Wolf of Gubbio”.  WWI generated her book of poems “Harvest Moon

Josephine didn’t meet Gibran again until 1914, while attending the play “The mask of the bird”.

In this month of February, Josephine invited Gibran to tea and showed him the album of her children. She had dinner with Gibran at Mrs Ford; and dinner at Edwin Robinson.

Gibran wrote to Mary Haskel “Josephine appears to belong to Cambridge and not the world. Josephine didn’t changeshe wore the same cloths

Josephine published her play “The chameleon” in 1918 and then “Portrait of Mrs. W” in 1922.  Josephine diary “Psychic” where she talks about Gibran is of 51 pages and span from December 1902 to January 1904.  She died in December 1922.

Gibran had to kill the “genie” of Josephine.

He wrote in an Arabic article titled “A ship in the fog”: “Hover over this white corps in white cloth amid white flowers the silence of time and the dread of eternity”

Note 1: Gibran was enamored (platonic) with several women much older than him, before he met Josephine Peabody.  For example, Louise Guiney (1861-1920) who was FH Day girlfriend; the artist Lilla Cabot Perry (1848-1933) who painted Gibran in Arabic attire (painting at Savannah museum); and the gifted photographer Sarah Choates Sears (1858-1935) who arranged to send many artists to Europe.

Note 2: East of USA in the early 20th century was very different from today.  People had this renaissance streak; they were polyvalent, spoke many languages, and traveled to Europe to acquire knowledge and arts.  People encouraged young foreigners with talents financially and with contacts.

Note 3: Gibran’s English was still tentative, and it will take him years to master this language, thanks to Mary Haskell who made it a point to edit all his English works. Gibran bequeathed his English work to Haskell after his death.

Note 5: Unfortunately, he missed to bequeath his Arabic works to May Ziadi. Miss. Ziadi would have spread Gibran works faster and wider in the Arabic speaking world and might have earned a new phase in her active life. Ziadi returned to Lebanon to be harassed by her relatives for her fortune, and even attempted to incarcerate her in a mental hospital.

Famine Hecatomb in Lebanon (1915-18)

Lebanon had a calamitous decade (1909-1918).

In 1909, waves of deadly diseases such as typhus, cholera, diphtheria… swept the cities and towns in current coastal Lebanon and in Mount Lebanon.

Many Lebanese, particularly Christians, immigrated. Their preferred destination was the USA and Egypt, but the ship captains would on many occasion drop the people in Africa and Latin America and telling them: “This is America

Linda Schatkowski Schilcher dissected the German and Austrian sources and achieves for her book “The Famine of 1915-18 in Greater Syria” and advanced the number of 500,000 victims of famine and related to famine in Syria and Lebanon, 200,000 of them died in Mount Lebanon, particularly in the districts of Byblos and Betroun and Tripoli.

For example, the village of Abdilleh lost 35% of its people and the town of Chabtine 63%.

How people die of Starvation?

“Due to absolute lack and bad quality of food, people experienced terrible feet swelling, and many fell exhausted on the roads, vomiting blood… The dead toddlers and kids were thrown with the garbage in the corners of the villages. Chariots collected them and dumped them in public ditches. These horror spectacles were observed in the villages of Bilad Jubeil and Bilad Batroun and the city of Tripoli…”

The Turkish feminist author Halide Edib wrote in her Memoirs: “The nights in Beirut were atrocious: You heard the whining and screaming of starved people “Ju3an, Ju3an” (I’m hungry, I’m famished)

Jubran Khalil Jubran wrote to Mary Haskell:

“The famine in Mount Lebanon has been planned and instigated by the Turkish government. Already 80,000 have succumbed to starvation, and thousands are dying every single day. The same process happened with the Christian Armenians and applied to the Christians in Mount Lebanon…”

What were the main causes for this endemic famine?

1. Turkey had joined Germany in WWI on November of 1914, and France landed in a few Islands on the coast such as Arwad, and established a maritime blockade that secured that no foodstuff reach Lebanon and Syria.

2. General Jamal Pasha instituted an internal blockade of cereals to enter Mount Lebanon, particularly the Christian Maronite Canton (Kaemmakam) that included the current districts of Kesrowan and Betroun. Consequently, the Lebanese could not receive wheat and cereals from the district of Akkar and the Bekaa Valley.

Mind you that the people in Mount Lebanon relied on the grains from Akkar and the Bekaa for immediate need, but relied on the grain arriving from Syria for the winter reserves.

3. In April of 1915, the locusts ate the green and the dry (akhdar wa yabess) of the harvests and plants for 3 months.

4. The Turkish troops had already emptied the grain reserves of the Lebanese homes at the start of the war, and there were no ways to replenish any foodstuff.

5. The war lasted 4 years, but the Lebanese suffered an extra year of famine: 10,000 kids were roaming the roads at the end of 1918, begging for crumbs of bread

Famished people from the coastal towns thought that they might get some relief in the higher altitude regions (Jroud of Bilad Jubail and Bilad Betroun) and they died there. In a single town, over 3,800 of them were buried in a communal ditch because the town refused to bury them close to the churches of the town.

Najib Murad-Diyarbakri mentioned in his book “Sinine al Ghala” (Years of expensive prices) a Lebanese epitaph that read as a poem:

“They died from famine along the roads,

No father or mother or anyone to pity on them

We witnessed couples perishing from the cold

In this rough climate…

And not receiving absolution from a priest or anybody

The Drums of war are beating their sad rhythm

And the living people, wrapped in their shroud

Believing the war will not last a year…

Dear God, may this fifth year be the end of it”

Even in 1933, Charles Corm noted: “In a single afternoon, I counted 823 houses without roofs, doors and windows between Kesrowan and Betroun…”

Note 1: Even in August 7, 1914, the Jesuit priest Joseph Delore urged the Catholic Missions in “Immense material and morale distress in Lebanon” to quickly come to the rescue.

Note 2: Stories are still being circulated in my hometown of Beit-Chabab (Metn district) that a few amassed wealth during the war by hoarding properties in exchange of a loaf of bread. The contraband from Syria was in full swing, and those with connections reaped wealth from the miseries of the little hapless people…

Note 3: Official Lebanon is doping its hardest to bury this famine calamity, on the ground that it is a shame to mention people dying of hunger.  Instead, Official Lebanon celebrate the hanging of 6 Lebanese by Jamal Pasha as martyrs.

Note 4: A decade ago, I knew a wonderful elderly couple in Montgomery County, originally from Adbelli, and they were in fine physical health. Jean was recounting how the people in the town were expecting to see the bed sheet displayed in the morning, as they got married in the town. Elizabeth would have nothing of that nonsense, and the sheet was never displayed from the window to show any red blotches.

Note 5: The locust came on whatever was still edible after the Turkish army grabbed the harvest for its war front on the Suez Canal

Pass me the Flute and sing with me… Gibran Khalil Jubran

« A3TINI NAYA WA 8ANNI  fal 8inna sirr al woujoud»
This Lebanese poem of Jubran Khalil Jubran was sang by Fayrouz.  Read the French translation from Arabic by Jamil BERRY in note 1.
Pass me the FLUTE and sing.
This whine of the flute
This secret of eternity entrusted to the wind
Will still be heard
When the world vanishes in the void
Have you, like me,
Elected the wood for home
Renounced and shun away the Castles
And escalated instead the docile rocks
And followed the course of streams…
To wash your body
In the fragrant perfumes of the field 
To dry off your skin
In a towel of light abundance?
If dawn has intoxicated you
This dawn of ethereal breeze in lenses…
Hand me the flute and sing
The song is the prayer
The most virtuous and most revered
Have you sat as I did,
At Vespers in the enclosure of the vines
Hung cluster and worthy chandeliers
Golden, beckoning to you?
Have you taken the green herb to nap on
And the sky for cover
Amnesiac to the past and its roots
And hermetic to the future strain?…
Give me the flute and sing
Forget the remedies and people’s woes
Aren’t we just lines written in water and lures?Gives me that flute and sing

This song does justice to the hearts

Note 1:

PASSE MOI LA FLÛTE ET CHANTE.

Ce secret d’éternité confié au vent

Le gémissement de la flûte

Se fera encore entendre

Lorsque le monde sera néant

As-tu comme moi …

Elu les bois pour domicile

En renonçant aux châteaux

Escaladé les rochers dociles

Et suivi le cours des ruisseaux

Pour laver ton corps

As tu pris les parfums pour eau

Et une serviette de lumière

Pour éponger ta peau ?…

Si l’aurore t’a -t-elle enivré

Avec ses verres de brise éthérée

Alors donne moi la flûte et chante

Le chant est la prière

La plus vertueuse, la plus vénérée

T’es-tu comme moi assis aux vêpres

Dans l’enclos des vignes

Aux grappes pendues et dignes

Des lustres dorés te faisant signe

As-tu pris l’herbe pour couche

Et le ciel pour couverture

Amnésique au passé et sa souche

Hermétique au futur ?…

Donne moi cette flûte et chante

Et oublie remèdes et malheurs

Les gens ne sont que des lignes

Ecrites à l’eau et aux leurres

Donne moi cette flûte et chante

Le chant lui, n’est que justice des coeurs

Note 2: When the Lord is great, it is good to be his vassal.

Part 3. “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”: To town of Bcherreh ; (Mar. 5, 2010)

            Pierre Bared, a middle-aged man, tall, svelte, with graying beard and three children decided to walked alone for 22 days on the wild trails of Mount Lebanon crossing it from the upper northern town of Kobayat to the southern town of Marje3youn  in June 2008.

            On the sixth day, the photographer Alfred called Pierre for a second photo session planting a Cedar tree in the town of Bcherreh (the birth town of Jubran Khalil Jubran, author of the “Prophet”).  They met mid way on a snaking path leading to the Saint Valley of Kannoubine.  Alfred takes photos from all angle of Pierre preparing his regular morning drink of powder milk and cocoa. Alfred then gives Pierre ride to Bcherreh for another photo session; the town hall extended the needed tools for planting the tree; Alfred brings him back to the wild trail; the owner of a café shop by the river agreed to water the plant.

            In Kannoubine, Pierre decided to take three days off of walking so that his monstrous blisters heal. Two of his old friends from scout Walid and Raymond joined him; Walid had fetched back the tent from Nizar.  The three guys spend two nights around bonfires reminiscing of old days.  Mosquitoes prevented Raymond from sleeping outside the tent.  The iced river was no handicap for Pierre to bath and wash his garments. Pierre has been walking bare foot most of the time.

            On the third morning of his resting period, a Sunday, Pierre abandoned Walid to guard the tent and resumed his wandering in the Saint Valley (classified by UNESCO a world sanctuary where goods are transported on mules).  He returned to get acquainted with the nuns in the convent and resumed his marching to the convent of Haouka.  In this convent there is this last hermit living in a grotto transformed into a tiny church.  In the afternoon, a bunch of friends surprised him by bringing his son with them and they had a barbecue going.

            Around 6 pm, Pierre walked toward the town of Hasroun. The ascent is hazardous and tiring.  Before the town square, Pierre decided to take advantage of an hour before nightfall and ventured into an asphalt road.  The full moon illuminated his path, an ascent toward a lone cedar tree by a traditional house. 

By 10 pm, Pierre walked into an orchard and spent the night; he slept under a cherry tree.  At 2 am, a loud Arabic music, set on high volume, awoke Pierre.  A man advanced rapidly toward Pierre without noticing him and then suddenly changed direction a few meters from him.  Pierre conjectured that the orchard guard had parked his car and is listening to the music inside his car.  Pierre had to suffer another 3 hours of this awful music to his ears before he gladly packed at 5 am; he was still sleepy but happy to be getting away from this horrible music. (To be continued)

Amine Rihani: A Pragmatic activist Writer (April 10, 2009)

 

Amine Rihany is a well learned, educated, activist, and pragmatic author born in Lebanon. He wrote many wonderful books and I read most of them.

Rihani had published in the New York Times since 1901; he was one of the founders of the “Association of Writers” (Al Rabitat al Kalamiah) of the Lebanese immigrants living in Boston. This association included Jubran Khalil Jubran, Michael Nouaimeh and Michael Nakhleh.

Amine Rihany was an undaunted and avid traveler and published books on his travels. He visited North Africa, the Arabic Peninsula of Yamen, Hijaz, Najd, and Kuweit and became close friends and counselors to many monarchs and leaders such as Abdalah bin Seoud, El Huseiny, al Sabbah and others.

Rihani published “The Heart of Lebanon” (Calb Loubnan) and dedicated to Charles Korm; he recounts in the minute details his trips within Lebanon in Mount Lebanon, from the Cedars, to the districts of Jubeil, Kesrowan, Faraya, Metn, Chouf, Jezzine, Marjeyoun, the south and Jabal Amel.

           

Amine Rihani is of Lebanese origin from the village of Frikeh close of my hometown of Beit-Chabab in the Metn district. He became a US citizen and lived in the USA for many decades. He died of a bicycle accident in Frikeh in 1940.  The family of Rihany established a museum in his honor.

           

Rihany was in frequent correspondence with US Presidents such as Franklin Roosevelt till 1908, Congressmen, and with the US Foreign Affairs to whom he sent reports on his various trips and conditions of the countries he visited.  Apparently, the US had no formal central intelligence services (CIA) until after the Second World War.

Before the First World War and the early part of the 20th century, the USA had no major vested interest in the Middle East, a region controlled and administered by the colonial powers of Britain and France. The US missionaries had instituted a university in Beirut around 1866, several schools and managed to convert a few Lebanese to Protestantism.  The USA had a policy of isolationism and non interference when it had no vested interests in a region.  For example, the US invaded Cuba and the Philippines and replaced the Spanish colonial power.

           

The US got interested in the Middle East in the twenties when Britain discovered vast deposits of oil in Iran, Iraq, and the Arabic Gulf. Britain had secured many treaties with Kuweit, Bahrein, and the Sultan of Najd for exclusive oil explorations.

Frank Holm, the British officer from New Zealand, managed to secure many contracts for oil explorations and Amine Rihany was part owner and counselor for his job of communicating and convincing the Arab leaders into signing these contracts in Saudi Arabia and Kuweit. 

The US Foreign Affairs started to exercise pressures on Britain to have shares in the multinational oil companies.  For example, the Turkish Oil Company had to re-distribute shares and thus, Britain/Iran got 23.75%, Dutch Shell 23.75%, France 23.75%, the US Jersey Standard and Socony 23.75%, and the mediator Kaloust Gulbankian 5%. The multinational company was renamed Iraq Petrolium Company (IPC).  Holm/Rihany secured another contract from the prince of Bahrein and sold it to the US Standard Oil and registered the company in Canada in 1928 to circumvent the British restriction treaties.

           

In 1931, King Abdel Aziz Al Seoud has conquered Hijjaz and signed a contract with Standard Oil of California (later named ARAMCO) for oil explorations.  Amin Rihany had a role in the negotiations.  Rihany played a role in securing the contract of exploration in Kuwait for the benefit of the US Pennsylvania Gulf Oil in 1934 after many political struggles between the US and Britain.

The tangible facts prove that Amin Rihany meant for the US to strategically transplant Britain and France in the Middle East.  At the time, the Palestinians were confronting the Zionist movement that planned to establish a State in Palestine and Britain had mandate over Palestine, Iraq, and Jordan.

The British Empire had permitted thousands of Jews to settle in Palestine and to establish colonies.  France and Britain aborted a nascent Arab State in Syria and Lebanon and another one in Iraq for the purpose of controlling directly this strategic region in oil and trade with Europe. 

Thus, France and Britain confiscated the political will of the people for independence and allowed the promise of Britain Foreign Affair Balfour in 1917 to establishing a Zionist state in Palestine.


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