GIBRAN KHALIL GIBRAN: Three "Greek" Prose-Poems

GIBRAN KHALIL GIBRAN: Three "Greek" Prose-Poems

Posted January 26th, 2011 by webmaster







In Antioch where the river Assi goes to meet the sea, a bridge was built to bring one half of the city nearer to the other half. It was built of large stones carried down from among the hills, on the backs of the mules of Antioch.

    When the bridge was finished, upon a pillar thereof was engraven in Greek and in Aramaic, «This bridge was builded by King Antiochus II».

    And all the people walked across the good bridge over the goodly river Assi.

    And upon an evening, a youth, deemed by some a little mad, descended to the pillar where the words were engraven, and he covered over the graving with charcoal, and above it he wrote, «The stones of thgis bridge were brought down from the hills by the mules. In passing to and fro over it you are riding upon the backs of the mules of Antioch, builders of this bridge».

    And when the people read what the youth had written, some of them laughed and some marveled. And some said, «Ah yes, we know who has done this. Is he not a little mad?»

    But one mule said, laughing, to another mule, «Do you not remember that we did carry those stones? And yet until now it has been said that the bridge was builded by King Antiochus».





Once upon a day two men who met on the road were walking together towards Salamis, the City of Columns. In mid-afternoon they came to a wide river and there was no bridge to cross it. They must needs swim, or seek another road unknown to them.

    And they said to one another, «Let us swim. After all, the river is not so wide». And they threw themselves into the water and swam.

    And one of them who had always known rivers and the ways of rivers, in mid-stream suddenly began to lose himself; and to be carried away by the rushing waters; while the other who had never swum before crossed the river straightway and stood upon the farther bank. Then seeing his companion still wrestling with the stream, he threw himself again into the waters and brought him also safely to the shore.

    And the man who had been swept  away by the current said, «But you told me you could not swim. How then did you cross that river with such assurance?»

    And the second man answered, «My friend, do you see this belt which girdles me? It is full of golden coins that I have earned for my wife and my children, a full year's work. It is the weight of this belt of gold that carries me across the river, to my wife and my children. And my wife and my children were upon my shoulders as I swam».

    And the tow men walked on together toward Salamis.





Many centuries ago, on a road to Athens, two poets met, and they were glad to see one another.

    And one poet asked the other saying, «What have you composed of late, and how goes it with your lyre?»

    And the other poet answered and said with pride, «I have but now finished the greatest of my poems, perchance the greatest  poem yet written in Greek. It is an invocation to Zeus the Supreme».

    Then he took from beneath his cloak a parchment, saying, «Here, behold, I have it with me, and I would fain read it to you. Come, let us sit in the shade of that white cypress».

    And the poet read his poem. And it was a long poem.

    And the other poet said in kindliness, «This is a great poem. It will live through the ages, and in it you shall be glorified».

    And the first poet said calmly, «And what have you been writing these late days?»

    And the other answered, «I have written but little. Only eight lines in  remembrance of a child playing in a garden». And he recited the lines.

    The first poet said, «Not so bad; not so bad».

    And they parted.

    And now after two thousand years the eight lines of the one poet are read in every tongue, and are loved and cherished.

    And though the other poem has indeed come down through the ages in libraries and in the cells of scholars, and though it it is remembered, it is neither loved nor read.