kahlil gibran to mary haskell (1908)

October 2, 1908
14 Avenue du Maine
Paris

My dear Mary – I had a long rest in the country with Syrian friends, a rich man with a great heart and a woman with both a beautiful soul and face. They both love poetry and poets. The town in which they live is like a large garden divided into little gardens by narrow paths. From a distance the houses with red roofs look like a handful of corals scattered on a piece of green velvet.

I am painting, or I am learning how to paint. It will take me a long time to paint as I want to, but it is beautiful to feel the growth of one’s own vision of things. There are times when I leave work with the feelings of a child who is put to bed early. Do you not remember, dear Mary, my telling you that I understand people and things through my sense of hearing, and that *sound* comes first to my soul? Now, dear Mary, I am beginning to understand things and people through my eyes. My memory seems to keep the shapes and colours of personalities and objects…

… It is almost midnight. The woman with the sweet voice, in the opposite studio, is no longer singing her sad Russian songs. The silence is profound. Good night, dear Mary. A thousand good nights from
Kahlil

November 8, 1908
Paris

When I am unhappy, dear Mary, I read your letters. When the mist overwhelms the “I” in me, I take two or three letters out of the little box and reread them. They remind me of my true self. They make me overlook all that is not high and beautiful in life. Each and every one of us must have a resting place somewhere. The resting place of my soul is a beautiful grove where my knowledge of you lives.

And now, I am wrestling with colour: The strife is terrible, one of us must triumph! I can almost hear you saying, “And what about drawing, Kahlil?” and Kahlil, with a thirst in his voice says, “Let me, O let me bathe my soul in colours; let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow.”

The professors in the academy say, “Do not make the model more beautiful than she is,” and my soul whispers, “O if you could only paint the model as beautiful as she really is.” Now what shall I do, dear Mary? Shall I please the professors or my soul? The dear old men know a great deal, but the soul is much nearer.

It is rather late, and I shall go to bed now, with many thoughts in my heart. Good night, dear Mary. God bless you always.
Kahlil

From Beloved Prophet – the love letters of Kahlil Gibran & Mary Haskell (1972)

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