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A Poem by Khalil Gibran : Two Infants II

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Two Infants II

A prince stood on the balcony of his palace addressing a great multitude summoned for
the occasion and said, “Let me offer you and this whole fortunate country my
congratulations upon the birth of a new prince who will carry the name of my noble
family, and of whom you will be justly proud. He is the new bearer of a great and
illustrious ancestry, and upon him depends the brilliant future of this realm. Sing and
be merry!” The voices of the throngs, full of joy and thankfulness, flooded the sky with
exhilarating song, welcoming the new tyrant who would affix the yoke of oppression to
their necks by ruling the weak with bitter authority, and exploiting their bodies and
killing their souls. For that destiny, the people were singing and drinking ecstatically to
the heady of the new Emir.

Another child entered life and that kingdom at the same time. While the crowds were
glorifying the strong and belittling themselves by singing praise to a potential despot,
and while the angels of heaven were weeping over the people’s weakness and
servitude, a sick woman was thinking. She lived in an old, deserted hovel and, lying in
her hard bed beside her newly born infant wrapped with ragged swaddles, was starving
to death. She was a penurious and miserable young wife neglected by humanity; her
husband had fallen into the trap of death set by the prince’s oppression, leaving a
solitary woman to whom God had sent, that night, a tiny companion to prevent her
from working and sustaining life.

As the mass dispersed and silence was restored to the vicinity, the wretched woman
placed the infant on her lap and looked into his face and wept as if she were to baptize
him with tears. And with a hunger weakened voice she spoke to the child saying, “Why
have you left the spiritual world and come to share with me the bitterness of earthly
life? Why have you deserted the angels and the spacious firmament and come to this
miserable land of humans, filled with agony, oppression, and heartlessness? I have
nothing to give you except tears; will you be nourished on tears instead of milk? I have
no silk clothes to put on you; will my naked, shivering arms give you warmth? The little
animals graze in the pasture and return safely to their shed; and the small birds pick
the seeds and sleep placidly between the branches. But you, my beloved, have naught
save a loving but destitute mother.”

Then she took the infant to her withered breast and clasped her arms around him as if
wanting to join the two bodies in one, as before. She lifted her burning eyes slowly
toward heaven and cried, “God! Have mercy on my unfortunate countrymen!”

At that moment the clouds floated from the face of the moon, whose beams penetrated
the transom of that poor home and fell upon two corpses.

 

 

Khalil Gibran

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