O my poor friend

O you who were born on a bed of sorrow and reared in the lap of misfortune and brought to manhood in the houses of oppression, you who eat your crust of bread with a sigh and drink of your clouded water with tears and weeping.

O soldier who is sentenced by man’s cruel law to forsake his mate and his little ones and kin to go out of the field of death for the sake of greed in its guise of duty.

And you, poet, who sojourn in the land of your birth, unknown among those who know you, satisfied with a morsel and fragments of ink and paper.

O captive, cast into the darkness for a small wrong made big by those who match evil with evil; banished by them that seek doing good by way of corruption.

And you, unfortunate woman, on whom God did bestow beauty; upon whom the eyes of the young men of the age fell, who pursued you and tempted you and conquered your poverty with gold. To them you did yield and were left as prey trembling in the hold of misery and shame.

You, my beloved weak, are the martyrs of men’s law. You are in despair, and your despairing is the fruit of the iniquity of the strong and the ruler’s deceit and the rich man’s oppressing, and the selfishness of the lustful.

Despair not. For beyond the wrongs of the world, beyond matter and clouds and air, beyond all things is a Power that is justice and mercy and love and compassion.

You are as flowers that grow in the shade. Gentle breezes shall pass and bear your needs to the sunlight, and you shall live there a pleasant life.

You are like to naked trees bowed under heavy winter snows. But soon will spring come to clothe you with fresh green leaves.

Truth shall tear aside the veil of tears that conceals your smile. And I will greet you, my brothers, and humble your oppressors.

Gibran Kahlil Gibran, from A Tear and a Smile

The poet of Lebanon speaks across the years, encouraging the descendants of his people, his friends, in a time of great trial. May beauteous Lebanon someday be freed of its troubles.

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