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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Poet (Gibran)

The poet is the mediator between the power of invention and humanity. He is the cable that transfers what the world of the soul conceives to the world of research, and what the world of thought determines to the world of retention and writing.

The poet is both the father and the mother of language; language travels the same roads he travels and stops to rest where he stops to rest, and if the poet dies, language sits on his grave crying over the loss, wailing until another poet passes by and extends his hands to it. And if the poet is both the father and the mother of language, the imitator is the weaver of its shroud and the digger of its grave.

By poet, I mean every inventor, be he big or small, every discoverer, be he strong or weak, every creator, be he great or humble, every lover of pure life, be he a master or a pauper, and everyone who stands in awe before the day and the night, be he a philosopher or a guard at a vineyard. The imitator, on the other hand, is the one who does not discover or create anything, but rather the one whose state of mind is borrowed from his contemporaries, and his conventional garments are made from the tatters of garments worn by his predecessors.

By poet, I mean that farmer who plows his field with a plow that differs, however little, from the plow he inherited from his father, in order that someone will come after him to give the new plow a new name; I mean that gardener who breeds an orange flower and plants it between a red flower and a yellow flower, in order that someone will come after him to give the new flower a new name; or that weaver who produces on his loom patterns and designs that differ from those his neighbors weave, in order that someone will give his fabric a new name. By poet, I mean the sailor who hoists a third sail on a ship that has only two, or the builder who builds a house with two doors and two windows among houses built with one door and one window, or the dyer who mixes colors that no one before him has mixed....

As for the imitator, he is the one who travels from place to place on the roads that a thousand and one caravans have traveled, making sure he does not deviate from his course for fear he will get lost; he is the one who earns his living, eats, drinks, and wears the clothes of a thousand generations before him, and so his life remains a mere echo, his whole being a mere shadow of a distant truth he neither knows anything about nor cares to know.
Khalil Gibran


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