by: Khalil Gibran
I was eighteen
years of age when love opened my eyes with its magic rays and touched my
spirit for the first time with its fiery fingers, and Selma was the
first woman who awakened my spirit with her beauty and led me into the
garden of high affection, where days pass like dreams and nights like
Selma was the one
who taught me to worship beauty by the example of her own beauty and
revealed to me the secret of love by her affection’ she was the one
who first sang to me the poetry of real life.
Every young man
remembers his first love and tries to recapture that strange hour, the
memory of which changes his deepest feeling and makes him so happy in
spite of all the bitterness of its mystery.
In every young
man’s life there is a “Selma” who appears to him suddenly while in
the spring of life and transforms his solitude into happy moments and
fills the silence of his nights with music.
I was deeply
engrossed in thought and contemplation and seeking to understand the
meaning of nature and the revelation of books and scriptures when I
heard LOVE whispered into my ears through Selma’s lips.
My life was a coma, empty like that of Adam’s in Paradise, when
I saw Selma standing before me like a column of light.
She was the Eve of my heart who filled it with secrets and
wonders and made me understand the meaning of life.
The first Eve led
Adam out of Paradise by her own will, while Selma made me enter
willingly into the paradise of pure love and virtue by her sweetness and
love; but what happened to the first man also happened to me, and the
fiery sword which chased Adam out of Paradise was like the one which
frightened me by its glittering edge and forced me away from the
paradise of my love without having disobeyed any order or tasted the
fruit of the forbidden tree.
Today, after many
years have passed, I have nothing left out of that beautiful dream
except painful memories flapping like invisible wings around me, filling
the depths of my heart with sorrow, and bringing tears to my eyes; and
my beloved, beautiful Selma, is dead and nothing is left to commemorate
her except my broken heart and tomb surrounded by cypress trees.
That tomb and this heart are all that is left to bear witness of
The silence that
guards the tomb does not reveal God’s secret in the obscurity of the
coffin, and the rustling of the branches whose roots suck the body’s
elements do not tell the mysteries of the grave, but the agonized sighs
of my heart announce to the living the drama which love, beauty, and
death have performed.
Oh, friends of my
youth who are scattered in the city of Beirut, when you pass that
cemetery near the pine forest, enter it silently and walk slowly so the
tramping of your feet will not disturb the slumber of the dead, and stop
humbly by Selma’s tomb and greet the earth that encloses her corpse
and mention my name with a deep sigh and say to yourself, “Here, all
the hopes of Gibran, who is living as a prisoner of love beyond the
seas, where buried. On this
spot he lost his happiness, drained his tears, and forgot his smile.
By that tombs grows Gibran’s sorrow together with the cypress trees, and above the tomb his spirit flickers every night commemorating Selma, joining the branches of the trees in sorrowful wailing, mourning and lamenting the going of Selma, who, yesterday, was a beautiful tune on the lips of life and today is a silent secret in the bosom of the earth.
Oh, comrades of my youth! I appeal to you in the names of those virgins whom your hearts have love, to lay a wreath of flowers on the forsaken tomb of my beloved, for the flowers you lay on Selma’s tomb are like falling drops of dew from the wyes of dawn on the leaves of a withering rose.