Friday, November 25, 2016

Long did I love you by Khalil Gibran


Long did I love you
Khalil Gibran

Excerpt:The Last Watch-The Forerunner

At high tide of night, when the first breath of dawn came
upon the wind, the forerunner, he who calls himself echo
to a voice yet unheard, left his bed-chamber and ascended
to the roof of his house. Long he stood and looked down
upon the slumbering city. Then he raised his head, and
even as if the sleepless spirits of all those asleep
had gathered around him, he opened his lips and spoke,
and he said:

"My friends and neighbors and you who daily pass my gate,
I would speak to you in your sleep, and in the valley
of your dreams I would walk naked and unrestrained;
for heedless are your waking hours and deaf are your
sound-burdened ears".

Long did I love you and overmuch.

I love the one among you as though he were all, and all
as if you were one. And in the spring of my heart I sang
in your gardens, and in the summer of my heart I watched
at your threshing-floors.

Yea, I loved you all, the giant and the pygmy, the leper
and the anointed, and him who gropes in the dark even as
him who dances his days upon the mountains.

You, the strong, have I loved, though the marks of your
iron hoofs are yet upon my flesh; and you the weak, though
you have drained my faith and wasted my patience.

You the rich have I loved, while bitter was your honey to my mouth;
and you the poor, though you knew my empty-handed shame.

You the poet with the bowed lute and blind fingers, you
have I loved in self-indulgence; and you the scholar ever
gathering rotted shrouds in potters' fields.

You the priest I have loved, who sit in the silences of
yesterday questioning the fate of my tomorrow; and you
the worshippers of gods the images of your own desires.

You the thirsting woman whose cup is ever full, I have
loved in understanding; and you the woman of restless
nights, you too I have loved in pity.

You the talkative have I loved, saying, 'Life hath much
to say'; and you the dumb have I loved, whispering to myself,
'Says he not in silence that which I fain would hear in words?'

And you the judge and the critic, I have loved also; yet
when you have seen me crucified, you said, 'He bleeds
rhythmically, and the pattern his blood makes upon his
white skin is beautiful to behold.'

Yea, I have loved you all, the young and the old,
the trembling reed and the oak.

But, alas, it was the over-abundance of my heart that
turned you from me. You would drink love from a cup,
but not from a surging river. You would hear love's
faint murmur, but when love shouts you would muffle your ears.

And because I have loved you all you have said,
'Too soft and yielding is his heart, and too undiscerning
is his path. It is the love of a needy one, who picks
crumbs even as he sits at kingly feasts. And it is
the love of a weakling, for the strong loves only the strong.'

And because I have loved you overmuch you have said,
'It is but the love of a blind man who knows not
the beauty of one nor the ugliness of another.
And it is the love of the tasteless who drinks vinegar
even as wine. And it is the love of the impertinent
and the overweening, for what stranger could be our
mother and father and sister and brother?'

This you have said, and more. For often in the market-place
you pointed your fingers at me and said mockingly, 'There goes
the ageless one, the man without seasons, who at the noon
hour plays games with our children and at eventide sits with
our elders and assumes wisdom and understanding.'

And I said, 'I will love them more. Aye, even more. I will
hide my love with seeming to hate, and disguise my tenderness
as bitterness. I will wear an iron mask, and only when armed
and mailed shall I seek them.'

Then I laid a heavy hand upon your bruises, and like a tempest
in the night I thundered in your ears.

From the housetop I proclaimed you hypocrites, Pharisees,
tricksters, false and empty earth-bubbles.

Thus with my lips have I denounced you, while my heart,
bleeding within me, called you tender names.

It was love lashed by its own self that spoke.
It was pride half slain that fluttered in the dust.
It was my hunger for your love that raged from the housetop,
while my own love, kneeling in silence,prayed your forgiveness.

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