All About Books discussion

26 views
The Monday Poem > "The Love Song" by Kahlil Gilbran (April 30, '18)

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Darrick (last edited Apr 29, 2018 11:00AM) (new)

Darrick Williams | 34 comments The Love Song:
By: Kahlil Gibran (The Wanderer)

The Wanderer His Parables and His Sayings by Kahlil Gibran

A poet once wrote a love song and it was beautiful.
And he made many copies of it, and sent
them to his friends and his acquaintances,
both men and women, and even to a young woman
whom he had met but once, who lived beyond the mountains.

And in a day or two a messenger came from
the young woman bringing a letter. And in the letter
she said, “Let me assure you, I am deeply
touched by the love song that you have written
to me. Come now, and see my father and my mother,
and we shall make arrangements for the betrothal.”

And the poet answered the letter, and he said to her,
“My friend, it was but a song of love out of a poet's heart,
sung by every man to every woman.”

And she wrote again to him saying, “Hypocrite
and liar in words! From this day unto my coffin-day
I shall hate all poets for your sake.”

__________________________________________

My thoughts on the poem:

I love this poem because it emphasizes the very essence of how a skillful poet, such as Gibran can put power to words, and bring them to life. When the poets collective words in story or verse are so beautiful, they never leave the page by you reading them, but bring you within them that you shall become one with them. In this, it is as if the poet is speaking directly to you, the reader.

I believe this has happened to the young woman in the poem. This is why I believe she didn’t see the love song as a poem, but as a love letter.

Her reply starts by saying:
“Let me assure you, I am deeply touched by the love song that you have written to me.”

Check out the video read by: Supriya Kapoor
https://youtu.be/uzVKLXIrrM0


message 2: by Tamara (last edited Apr 29, 2018 11:56AM) (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1022 comments An nice poem. Thanks for sharing it.

I'm struck by a couple of things:

The fact that she takes the poem so personally--as if it is directed exclusively to her. She is angered when she is told that it is a generic love poem without a specific audience in mind.

But I am also struck by the poet's actions. Why would he send such a poem to a woman he has met only once? She lives "beyond the mountains" so it sounds as if she is pretty isolated. Why send her such a poem? She is a woman who receives "a love song" from a man she barely knows. So it is not surprising she assumes the poem to be a declaration of love. I'm wondering if he deliberately set her up to misinterpret his intentions in sending the poem.


message 3: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1022 comments Also, it occurs to me that since the poem is written by Kahlil Gibran, the poem might have spiritual overtones.
The poet/God loves all humanity. The woman thinks God's love is exclusively for her i.e. that she is someone special, superior to the rest of humanity, and favored above all others.
Perhaps the poem can be read as a lesson in humility, i.e. that God showers His love on all of us.
I don't know if that makes any sense, but I figure with Gibran, it must have some sort of spiritual meaning.


message 4: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Tamara wrote: "An nice poem. Thanks for sharing it.

I'm struck by a couple of things:

The fact that she takes the poem so personally--as if it is directed exclusively to her. She is angered when she is told th..."


I wondered about that too (why the poet sent it to her).

If the story is a metaphor about God, I suppose that it could be read as meaning that some people can't bear to share his love with others, as you say "The woman thinks God's love is exclusively for her i.e. that she is someone special, superior to the rest of humanity, and favored above all others." and so turn bitter and angry when told that isn't so (a possible explanation of jihadists & others who think like that?). I am making this up as I go along so it is probably all rubbish...


message 5: by Darrick (new)

Darrick Williams | 34 comments Tamara wrote: "An nice poem. Thanks for sharing it.

I'm struck by a couple of things:

The fact that she takes the poem so personally--as if it is directed exclusively to her. She is angered when she is told th..."


Tamara wrote: "An nice poem. Thanks for sharing it.

I'm struck by a couple of things:

The fact that she takes the poem so personally--as if it is directed exclusively to her. She is angered when she is told th..."



Interesting take Tamara, I enjoy listening or reading the different interpretation of poems. Poems are for each individual interpretation, and your points in this poem are valid. So I will try to give a scenario of this poem.

(Why would he send such a poem to a woman he has met only once?)

Let’s say, a poet in passing stops and starts taking with someone, and the poet reveals that he/she is a poet. The poet and passerby has a great, but brief conversation and then depart. The poet one day do what poets do and write a beautiful poem. The poet then say, I shall send it to some friends and his acquaintances who I think will enjoy it. The poet thinks also of the passerby and say, I shall also send it to him/her.

(She is a woman who receives "a love song" from a man she barely knows.)

This could be because the passerby enjoys poetry, and maybe the poet found something interesting in their brief conversation and thought the poem would be helpful. Maybe this is why the poet knew the address where to send the letter.

(I'm wondering if he deliberately set her up to misinterpret his intentions in sending the poem.)

So because the poem was sent also to friends and his acquaintances, I think maybe it wasn’t directed exclusively to her in that way.

(So it sounds as if she is pretty isolated)

I would also ask this question, when did they meet, did the poet go beyond the mountains, or did she venture out? Yet, your isolation point you suggested could be a great reason for her immediate engagement request.

Thanks for your insight on the poem!


message 6: by Leslie (last edited Apr 29, 2018 03:41PM) (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Darrick - when I first read the poem, I imagined to myself a scenario such as you described, a friendly meeting, perhaps at a literary gathering while she is visiting the city. In my mind also was the idea that the young woman doesn't have much contact with other literary people "beyond the mountains" so he sent the poem to her as a kindness to alleviate her isolation.

However Tamara makes a good point:
(I'm wondering if he deliberately set her up to misinterpret his intentions in sending the poem.)
and your response:
So because the poem was sent also to friends and his acquaintances, I think maybe it wasn’t directed exclusively to her in that way.

To the poet, it wasn't directed exclusively to her - he is aware that he sent it to many others. But she has no way of knowing that so from her perspective, it would appear exclusive unless he included a letter saying something like:
I am sending my newest poem to all my friends and thought you would like a copy.

By not enclosing such a note, it does seem as if he set her up to misinterpret his intentions (whether deliberately or not).


message 7: by Darrick (last edited May 02, 2018 11:31AM) (new)

Darrick Williams | 34 comments Leslie wrote: "Darrick - when I first read the poem, I imagined to myself a scenario such as you described, a friendly meeting, perhaps at a literary gathering while she is visiting the city. In my mind also was ..."

Hello Leslie, I was thinking as I was using "directed exclusively to her." As if the love song said something like “ I love you” "I desire you," or something in that nature. Sending this type of poem to some friends and his acquaintances, I didn't think it would have been a good ideal. That's the kind of scenario I was thinking of.


message 8: by Joan (new)

Joan Interesting and thanks for the comments.
My reaction was how much the reader’s expectations/mind set affect the interpretation of a work of art, that a work of art is a dialogue between artist and viewer, as in the writings of Proust and Wilde.

The girl was receptive to dreams of love and marriage and those dreams led her to connect emotionally with the poem, but also to misinterpretation. It made me wonder what was she like, what was her life/her dreams, why was she vulnerable.

Then, disillusioned, she can no longer enjoy any poetry.

So how we respond to a work changes as we change.

His friends received the letter too but we don’t hear that they took it personally - they read it in a different mental state.

The religious interpretation resonates for me too though I had not seen it - thanks for pointing it out Tamara.


message 9: by Joan (last edited May 01, 2018 03:00PM) (new)

Joan I didn’t sense that she was isolated, just far away,
but then I’d love to go beyond the mountains, so I read it as a desirable place.


message 10: by Diane S ☔ (new)

Diane S ☔ I take it as the poem is personal, interpreted by the various readers. Each sees something different in what is written.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I think the poet is a arrogant. He thought that everybody would want to read his poem so he sent it to everybody he knew. He didn't think that it could be misinterpreted as anything other than greatness and clearly didn't think to send a note explaining...

“My friend, it was but a song of love out of a poet's heart,
sung by every man to every woman.”

This seems to be that he thought his poem represent all forms of love between a man and a women and not his personal feelings. Can any poet claim to represent all feelings? Nope!

I don't like the poet... I feel very sorry for the poor young women. I don't think she is wrong to expect a love poem sent to her by a man she has only met to be a gesture of love, particularly if you look at other cases in literature. Love between acquaintances is a reasonably common theme (love at first sight etc)

Does this make me a terrible cynic?? I do like the poem a lot, and I like Gibran, just not the fictional poet.


message 12: by Jenny (last edited May 02, 2018 02:35PM) (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments This is a really interesting discussion. I just read through all the comments and then scrolled up again in order to read the poem once more. The thing that struck me was that we all seem to have gotten so quickly drawn into the narrative of the poem, actually discussing motives for a character's action the way we would often do with novels or short stories. I don't know a lot of poets that get me there with so little words.

It also really made me speculate on the poem of the poet IN the poem. I felt as if I was given two poems in one, the one Gibran wrote and the one I was imagening in my head.


message 13: by Joan (new)

Joan Darrick - thanks for triggering a great discussion


message 14: by Darrick (new)

Darrick Williams | 34 comments You’re welcome Joan. Also, thank you to all who gave their perspective on the poem. I’ve read, and enjoyed this poem many times, but to read everyone’s different angles and thoughts was great and enlightening. This is why I think poetry is such an magnificent art.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I completely agree, Jenny. I usually find myself looking for metaphor and language when trying to understand poetry. This poem is beautiful in its simplicity (in the sense the language and metaphor are straight forward) but then absolutely delightful in its complexity of meaning.

Thanks for a great discussion, everybody


message 16: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
I really like your perspective on this Tamara - that wasn't what first occurred to me, but certainly many places in the Bible describe that kind of spiritual jealousy, the wanting to be loved above others.

And certainly if you take the poem literally, it's a bit weird to send a poem to a stranger with no explanation. But I really like what you say Joan and Derrick about a poem being a communication between poet and reader - poems are intimate in that way.

In some ways it's a metaphor for the work of any artist: the work goes out into the world, and each person who reads it takes it in as an intimate communication. Writers, musicians, and artists often get letters from people who say they feel like they know them through their work. I feel the same about certain artists whose work has touched me in some deep way, even though I don't really know them at all.


back to top