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International Reflective Writing


Kahlil Gibran (Lebanese)

Kahlil Gibran, was an artist, poet and writer. He was born in Lebanon and spent much of his productive life in the United States. He is best known as the author ofThe Prophet, which was first published in the United States in 1923 and has since become one of the best-selling books of all time, having been translated into more than 100 languages.

Your Children

Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For thir souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.

Quotes by Gibran

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.

One day you will ask me which is more important? My life or yours? I will say mine and you will walk away not knowing that you are my life.

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.

The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.

Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being.

Kahlil Gibran: Poems for Peace


The tempest calmed after bending the branches of the trees and leaning heavily upon the grain in the field. The stars appeared as broken remnants of lightning, but now silence prevailed over all, as if Nature's war had never been fought.

A tthat hour a young woman entered her chamber and knelt by her bed sobbing bitterly. Her heart flamed with agony but she could finally open her lips and say, "Oh Lord, bring him home safely to me. I have exhausted my tears and can offer no more, oh Lord, full of love and mercy. My patience is drained and calamity is seeking possession of my heart. Save him, oh Lord, from the iron paws of War; deliver him from such unmerciful Death, for he is weak, governed by the strong. Oh Lord, save my beloved, who is Thine own son, from the foe, who is Thy foe. Keep him from the forced pathway to Death's door; let him see me, or come and take me to him."

Quietly a young man entered. His head was wrapped in bandage soaked with escaping life.

He approached he with a greeting of tears and laughter, then took her hand and placed against it his flaming lips. And with a voice with bespoke past sorrow, and joy of union, and uncertainty of her reaction, he said, "Fear me not, for I am the object of your plea. Be glad, for Peace has carried me back safely to you, and humanity has restored what greed essayed to take from us. Be not sad, but smile, my beloved. Do not express bewilderment, for Love has power that dispels Death; charm that conquers the enemy. I am your one. Think me not a specter emerging from the House of Death to visit your Home of Beauty.

"Do not be frightened, for I am now Truth, spared from swords and fire to reveal to the people the triumph of Love over War. I am Word uttering introduction to the play of happiness and peace."
Then the young man became speechless and his tears spoke the language of the heart; and the angels of Joy hovered about that dwelling, and the two hearts restored the singleness which had been taken from them.
At dawn the two stood in the middle of the field contemplating the beauty of Nature injured by the tempest. After a deep and comforting silence, the soldier said to his sweetheart, "Look at the Darkness, giving birth to the Sun."

Marianna, Gibran's sister, painted by Kahlil Gibran

Your Thought and Mine

Your thought is a tree rooted deep in the soil of tradition and whose branches grow in the power of continuity. My thought is a cloud moving in the space. It turns into drops which, as they fall, form a brook that sings its way into the sea. Then it rises as vapour into the sky. Your thought is a fortress that neither gale nor the lightning can shake. My thought is a tender leaf that sways in every direction and finds pleasure in its swaying. Your thought is an ancient dogma that cannot change you nor can you change it. My thought is new, and it tests me and I test it morn and eve.
You have your thought and I have mine.

Your thought allows you to believe in the unequal contest of the strong against the weak, and in the tricking of the simple by the subtle ones. My thought creates in me the desire to till the earth with my hoe, and harvest the crops with my sickle, and build my home with stones and mortar, and weave my raiment with woollen and linen threads. Your thought urges you to marry wealth and notability. Mine commends self-reliance. Your thought advocates fame and show. Mine counsels me and implores me to cast aside notoriety and treat it like a grain of sand cast upon the shore of eternity. Your thought instils in your heart arrogance and superiority. Mine plants within me love for peace and the desire for independence. Your thought begets dreams of palaces with furniture of sandalwood studded with jewels, and beds made of twisted silk threads. My thought speaks softly in my ears, ?Be clean in body and spirit even if you have nowhere to lay your head.? Your thought makes you aspire to titles and offices. Mine exhorts me to humble service.

You have your thought and I have mine.

Your thought is social science, a religious and political dictionary. Mine is simple axiom. Your thought speaks of the beautiful woman, the ugly, the virtuous, the prostitute, the intelligent, and the stupid. Mine sees in every woman a mother, a sister, or a daughter of every man. The subjects of your thought are thieves, criminals, and assassins. Mine declares that thieves are the creatures of monopoly, criminals are the offspring of tyrants, and assassins are akin to the slain. Your thought describes laws, courts, judges, punishments. Mine explains that when man makes a law, he either violates it or obeys it. If there is a basic law, we are all one before it. He who disdains the mean is himself mean. He who vaunts his scorn of the sinful vaunts his disdain of all humanity. Your thought concerns the skilled, the artist, the intellectual, the philosopher, the priest. Mine speaks of the loving and the affectionate, the sincere, the honest, the forthright, the kindly, and the martyr. Your thought advocates Judaism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. In my thought there is only one universal religion, whose varied paths are but the fingers of the loving hand of the Supreme Being. In your thought there are the rich, the poor, and the beggared. My thought holds that there are no riches but life; that we are all beggars, and no benefactor exists save life herself.
You have your thought and I have mine.

According to your thought, the greatness of nations lies in their politics, their parties, their conferences, their alliances and treaties. But mine proclaims that the importance of nations lies in work ? work in the field, work in the vineyards, work with the loom, work in the tannery, work in the quarry, work in the timberyard, work in the office and in the press. Your thought holds that the glory of the nations is in their heroes. It sings the praises of Rameses, Alexander, Caesar, Hannibal, and Napoleon. But mine claims that the real heroes are Confucius, Lao-Tse, Socrates, Plato, Abi Taleb, El Gazali, Jalal Ed-din-el Roumy, Copernicus, and Pasteur. Your thought sees power in armies, cannons, battleships, submarines, aeroplanes, and poison gas. But mine asserts that power lies in reason, resolution, and truth. No matter how long the tyrant endures, he will be the loser at the end. Your thought differentiates between pragmatist and idealist, between the part and the whole, between the mystic and materialist. Mine realizes that life is one and its weights, measures and tables do not coincide with your weights, measures and tables. He whom you suppose an idealist may be a practical man.

You have your thought and I have mine.

Your thought is interested in ruins and museums, mummies and petrified objects. But mine hovers in the ever-renewed haze and clouds. Your thought is enthroned on skulls. Since you take pride in it, you glorify it too. My thought wanders in the obscure and distant valleys. Your thought trumpets while you dance. Mine prefers the anguish of death to your music and dancing. Your thought is the thought of gossip and false pleasure. Mine is the thought of him who is lost in his own country, of the alien in his own nation, of the solitary among his kinfolk and friends.
You have your thought and I have mine.

Murmur of Silence, Khalil Gibran, 1914

Peace and Love

Three dogs were basking in the sun and conversing. The first dog said dreamily, "It is indeed wondrous to be living in this day of dogdom. Consider the ease with which we travel under the sea, upon the earth and even in the sky. And meditate for a moment upon the inventions brought forth for the comfort of dogs, even for our eyes and ears and noses."

And the second dog spoke and he said, "We are more heedful of the arts. We bark at the moon more rhythmically than did our forefathers. And when we gaze at ourselves in the water we see that our features are clearer than the features of yesterday."

Then the third dog spoke and said, "But what interests me most and beguiles my mind is the tranquil understanding existing between dogdoms."

At that very moment they looked, and lo, the dog-catcher was approaching.
The three dogs sprang up and scampered down the street; and as they ran the third dog said, "For God's sake, run for your lives. Civilization is after us."

Peace Contagious

One branch in bloom said to his neighboring branch, "This is a dull and empty day." And the other brance answered, "It is indeed empty and dull." At that moment a sparrow alighted on one of the branches, and the another sparrow, nearby.

And one of the sparrows chirped and said, "My mate has left me."

And the other sparrow cried, "My mate has also gone, and she will not return. And what care I?"
Then the two birds began to twitter and scold, and soon they were fighting and making harsh noise upon the air. All of a sudden two other sparrows came sailing from th sky, and they sat quietly beside the restless two. And there was calm, and there was peace.

Then the four flew away together in pairs.

And the first branch said to his neighboring branch, "That was a mighty zig-zag of sound."
And the other branch answered, "Call it what you will, it is now both peaceful and spacious. And if the upper air makes peace it seems to me that those who dwell in the lower might make peace also. Will you not wave in the wind a little nearer to me?"

And the first branch said, "Oh, perchance, for peace' sake, ere the Spring is over."

And then he waved himself with the strong wind to embrace her.

Read more of Gibran's work here on Voices in Education:


Michel Tohme: Lebanon's Waterfall Poet

Michel Tohme was born in Kfarnis (El Shouf), Lebanon, a mountain village of Maronite Christians. A talented child, he was writing at an early age. When he was eighteen, he worked at a dentist clinic where he acquired valuable contacts. Many of Tohme’s poems were set to song. His early works were sung by Najah Salam and Nour el Houda. He published his first book, '7ob b7ob' in 1952. His family supported him while he established himself as a songwriter and a poet. This step was followed by great success and a collection of poems sang by great singers, such as Wadih el Safi, Sabah, Warda, Samira Toufic, Samir Yazbic, Ihsan Sadec, Issam Rajji, Taroub, Hiyam Younis, Nazha Younis, Jackline, Joseph Nassif, Ferial Karim, Fahed Bellen, Mohammed Jamal, Farid el Atrash and others. He worked in journalism for about 2 years and was among the juries in Studio El Fan, a TV arts competition program that sought to explore new stars and talents from Lebanon and the Arab World.

He was married to Antoinette Rahal and lived in Karem Al Zaytoun. Most of Michel’s work are everlasting, the proof to that are the renewed songs. Moreover, Michel Tohme wrote for Lebanon, Kuwait, Egypt, Syria, Jordan... and was known as the “waterfall poet.” With the Lebanese civil war, Michel had to sell cigarettes in order to live. He felt the misery of war and the pain of the Lebanese people. Days before his death, Michel traveled to Damascus in order to visit his friends living there because of war, were they went out to a local pub in order to celebrate this gathering. That night, Michel was asked to go to stage and read some of his poetry concerning the war in Lebanon. Michel could not continue the poem that he was reading. He fell on his knees, and cried out with tears in his eyes: ‘I want to return to Lebanon and kiss the soil of my homeland.’ He returned to Lebanon but death was waiting for him. He died of a heart attack, possibly accelerated by the Lebanese war, in Ashrafiyeh, on November, 2, 1976. Upon his death, his body was transported back to his hometown, Kfarnis. His last works before his death were about his dear Lebanon, as he said: ‘my country is injured and my heart is aching for him.’

Tohme’s best-known work is ‘Akh Ya Baladi’, a book about the war in Lebanon.


Nadia Tueni

Nadia Tueni (1935-1983) was born in Beirut, Lebanon and educated in French schools in Lebanon and Greece. She received her law degree at the Universite Saint Joseph in Beirut.

Tueni was born to a Lebanese Druze father, Mohamed Ali Hamade, who was a diplomat and writer, and a French mother. She was the wife of Ghassan Tueni, the publisher of Annahar and doyen of the Lebanese press. Her son was journalist and politician, Gebran Tueni. He was assassinated in 2005. Her son, Makram, was 21 when he died in a car accident in Paris in 1987. Her brother, Marwan Hamadeh, is also a politician, and her brother, Ali Hamadeh, is a journalist at the Annahar and Future TV. Tueni died in Beirut in 1983 after battling cancer for several years. Some of her publications include Blond Texts (1963) and Dreamers of the Earth (1975).

Her poetry remains a tour de force of passion that describes not only the politics of places like Lebanon both then and now but a woman’s place in that, often male dominated, environment.


Tueni's Writing

I belong to a country that commits suicide every day, while it is being assassinated," wrote the Lebanese poet Nadia Tueni. "I belong to my foolish land: I create it though my death, and its face is consumed by a thousand gazes more incandescent than hunger.


Beirut is the last sanctuary in the East
Where mankind can still dress itself in light

Nothing but a Man

Nothing but a man
let's execute him against the door.
The morning of taking him away was robed
with the freshness of water;
it would be best to finish him off
against a door of blue wood.
His knees were knees of water
a forehead of oak under the rain.
He told me: " talk
of this flower dying according to the curve
of a thought,
of oblivion it offers in the shelter of
the sun,
and of multiplied love". . .
We shot him against the light
and let hatred rise like baked bread.
Maybe I'll weep for him.
It was simple in the deep earth
and brief.

Would You Come Back?

Would you come back if I said the earth
was at the tip of my fingers
like a charred branch already cooled?
birds often die deep in your blond hair
they adopt the sea as a vice
because of its sonorous seaweed
and runaways coming undone
too late to be born each second
on their knees before the faces whose every color
is a holy wafer
like a throat seized by cattle who devour a sunray
would you come back if I said the earth
was at the tip of my fingers?


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