The Kahlil Gibran Collective
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In 1919 Gibran published 'al-Mawakib.' He had written it during summer vacations in Cohasset, Massachusetts, in 1917 and 1918 but wanted to bring it out in an elegant illustrated edition on heavy stock that was unavailable in wartime. It is a two-hundred-line poem in traditional rhyme and meter comprising a dialogue between an old man and a youth on the edge of a forest. The old man is rooted in the world of civilization and the city; the youth is a creature of the forest and represents nature and wholeness. The old man expresses a gloomy philosophy to which the carefree youth gives optimistic responses. Some critics noted the irregularities in the Arabic; Gibran’s haphazard education meant that his Arabic, like his English, was never perfect. Conservative reviewers objected to the poem’s solecisms, but Mayy Ziyada dismissed them as expressions of the poet’s independence. The work immediately became popular, especially as a piece to be sung. It is one of the great examples of mahjari (immigrant) poetry and pioneered a new form of verse in Arabic.