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Letter of Kahlil Gibran to James Oppenheim (circa 1916)
Letter to James Oppenheim (1882–1932), author and editor of the short-lived Seven Arts magazine. In full: “This war poem came to the Seven Arts through me. It might interest you to read it. I have been wrestling with an angel and a devil during the past two months. And it is indeed terrible to be between two powers so different. In a week or so I shall leave town for a much needed rest in the country. May I not see you before I go?”
The Seven Arts was founded with the idealistic goal of transforming American life through the arts, featuring contributors such as Dreiser, Frost, Mencken, and Dos Passos, but folded in 1917 after just one year. In 1916, Gibran was preoccupied with the war in his native Syria, actively soliciting funds and suffering emotional distress at any war news; although he diverted his energy toward writing, the predominant theme from this period was death. In September he left New York to visit his sister on Cape Cod hoping to relieve this building stress, but suffered a nervous breakdown. A remarkable letter from a tumultuous period of Gibran’s life that influenced his writing for years to come.