The Kahlil Gibran Collective

The Artist The Poet The Man

Today Even As Yesterday - An Unpublished Poem by Kahlil Gibran

 by Francesco Medici

© Copyright Francesco Medici All Rights Reserved 2019 

Indeed, as of today, Gibran’s literary works both in Arabic and English have all but been published, apart from maybe some fragments and other minor contributions. To find unpublished material we have to look above all at his many letters.[1] For example, his extensive correspondence with Mary Haskell Minis (between 1904 and the time of his death in 1931) and her private journal and diaries about him are still waiting to be published in their entirety. Said documents are part of the Minis Family Papers, 1739-1948, held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA, which also contains Mary’s correspondence and various materials about Gibran, manuscripts, writings, sketches and prints of sketches by him, photographs of him, and one corrected typed copy of “The Broken Wings, or a Chapter from a Spiritual Biography” (an English self-translation of his novelette in Arabic “al-Ajnihah al-Mutakassirah”)[2] which he gave her in January 1912.  

  

In 2004, James Cummins Bookseller, 699 Madison Avenue, New York City, put up for sale at $8,000 an untitled and undated “Autograph Manuscript poem of four stanzas, approximately 22 lines” by Kahlil Gibran from the Barbara Young collection.[3] Written in ink on laid paper, it shows several deletions and a few words inserted in pencil possibly in the hand of Barbara Young herself. This is a transcription of the poem, whose title has been purely given as an indication:  

 

 

[Today Even As Yesterday]Today Even As Yesterday Original ManuscriptToday Even As Yesterday Original Manuscript

Today, the sun is in the sky 

Even as yesterday

And the birds sing ceaselessly in the forest 

Yet lightless is my day and songless.

Even as yesterday

The wind dances upon the hills

And the bay trees and the lilies

Melt tenderly into space

Yet breathless is my day and scentless.

Today, my heart throbs

Even as yesterday

Yet here it lies in a coffin as dead.

The hours beat the muffled drums

And memory, half dumb,

Speaks the funeral oration.

And regret is digging the grave.

O love, you who walk the earth in search of life

Lay your hand again upon my heart

And say it is not dead.

Disperse these mourners

And let me rise again

To walk with you

                          Even as yesterday.

 

 

[1] A great number of his letters to various American addressees has been recently collected by Salim Mujais, who edited the books: “Letters of Kahlil Gibran to Josephine Peabody,” Beirut: Kutub, 2009; “The Face of the Prophet: Kahlil Gibran and the Portraits of the Temple of Arts,” Beirut: Kutub, 2011; “Letters from Kahlil Gibran to Gertrude Barry,” Beirut: Kutub, 2013.

[2] Cf. “al-Ajnihah al-mutakassirah,” New York: Mir’at al-Gharb, 1912.

[3] Cf. James Cummins Bookseller’s Catalogue 90, pp. 20-22 (No. 39): “10 x 7½ inches; mounted on black paper backing sheet, framed to 13 x 9½ inches overall, n.p., n.d. Old folds, some chipping and splits to top and right margins not affecting text. Docketed in another hand in lower mat margin, ‘A manuscript from Kahil Gibran’s / From Barbara Young Collection’.”

* This article is based on an excerpt from the paper “Tracing Gibran’s Footsteps: Unpublished and Rare Material,” in “Gibran in the 21th Century: Lebanon’s Message to the World,” edited by H. Zoghaib and M. Rihani, Beirut: Center for Lebanese Heritage, LAU, 2018, pp. 93-145.