Kahil Gibran Pondered Upon by Private English Tutor
When the life of this private English tutor becomes a little lumpy, bumpy and gritty I have a calming tactic. I turn to Kahlil Gibran. This amazing Lebanese poet/philosopher/human being has been a constant, a humbling presence and my ballast on a sometimes turbulent ocean of life.
Although I first came across his book The Prophet several decades ago, it is a quote from Sand and Foam that I would like us to cogitate upon for a few lines.
Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper
As someone who has used (and abused?) several trees in his academic career, the words had a profound effect on me when I happened upon them, again, a few days ago. I am as guilty as many of wasting paper. There are times when I hear my over-worked printer grumbling and groaning about being at my beck and call twenty four hours per day and me not even bothering to clean away the dust from its inner workings.
‘Come on private tutor, give me a break’, I hear him squeak from the dim and dusty corner.
Pondering the remarkable words in my slim volume, I wonder how Mr Gibran always was able to place the right words in the correct order. How is it some people are able to do that? One of life’s great mysteries I guess.
What immediately struck me were the the first three words. ‘Trees are poems. . . ‘ What an incredible metaphor. Logically, I know that a tree is a tree – how could it be a poem? Then, in Mr Gibran’s silky presence, I slid effortlessly to another place.
I was alone, apart from the birds, river and mountains. The oak towered above me as I made a slight adjustment of the tripod legs. My point of focus became the leaf further away than that of the original one. Yes, I wanted it there as foreground interest but only in order to lead the eye onwards to the blemish-free leaf. Just like a poem, everything is part of the whole and one thing leads seamlessly on to another.
Adding ‘. . . the earth writes upon the sky’, to the first three words, ‘Trees are poems’, just sent my head spinning. What kind of an image do we have now? I picture myself lying under a tree, looking up as the light filters through the leaves. The trees are indeed poems writing on the sky. Try it – you will feel yourself transported into another place.
‘We fell them down and turn them into paper’ feels like a sledgehammer blow. ‘We’ involves us all, we do indeed ‘fell them down and turn them into paper’.
Do this private tutor feel guilty – yes!
As the Cree Indian saying says:
Only when the last tree has died
and the last river been poisoned
and the last fish been caught
Will we realise we cannot eat money.