Walt Whitman and Arabic Immigrant Poet Gibran Khalil Gibran/WALT WHITMAN ET POET IMMIGRE ARABE GIBRAN KHALIL GIBRAN

By Fengmin, Lin | Canadian Social Science, January 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Walt Whitman and Arabic Immigrant Poet Gibran Khalil Gibran/WALT WHITMAN ET POET IMMIGRE ARABE GIBRAN KHALIL GIBRAN


Fengmin, Lin, Canadian Social Science


Abstract:

Whitman influenced greatly on modern Arabic poetry in general and its prose poetry in particular through Gibran Khalil Gibran, the most famous and important Arabic immigrant poet that had ever lived in America for a long time. We can find in Gibran and Whitman's works that they shared strong similarity in their poetics and thoughts. Gibran's prose poetry, first of all, is of the same origin as Whitman's in his creative language. Both of them are adept at creating original images by ingenious combination of words. In the second place, just like Whitman's poetry, Gibran's works possess an awfully aesthetic sense of music. Like Whitman, Gibran uses graceful rhythm to manifest musical aesthetic feeling in his production. In the third place, both of Whitman and Gibran are good at using colors. Some of their poems are almost a collection of colors. Gibran and Whitman also express some similar thoughts in their works. Both of them did not advocate the tradition so much Gibran is as sharp as Whitman in his rebellious spirit. Also, it is very explicit that both of Whitman and Gibran are mystic. We'll focus our discussion on their characteristics of pantheism and natural occultism.

Keywords: Walt Whitman, Gibran Khalil Gibran, Arabic Immigrant Poem, prose poetry

Résumé: Gibran Khalil Gibran, comme d'autres poètes et écrivains arabes immigrés aux Etats-Unis, fut influencé par la littérature américaine, notamment par les proses poétiques de Walt Whitman. La création littéraire de ces deux grands écrivains fait preuve d'une grande affinité en innovation linguistique, musicalité textuelle, jeu de couleurs, esprit de révolte et recherche du mystique en constituant une parfaite illustration de la communication et les convergences entre la littérature orientale et la littérature occidentale, et surtout celle de l'acceptation de la dernière par la précédente.

Mots-clés: Walt Withman, Gibran Khalil Gibran, Littérature arabe immigrante aux Etats-Unis, Proses poétiques

Whitman's poetry has a great impact on world literatures. A Czechoslovakian critic once pointed that "the new poetic realm opened up by Whitman means similarly to the poetry in Asia, America and Europe " (Ll Yeguang, 1988, p381.)

In fact, Whitman influenced greatly on modem Arabic poetry in general and its prose poetry in particular. His influence on Arabic prose poetry came from some immigrant poets and writers who lived in America. The most famous and important Arabic immigrant poet is Gibran Khalil Gibran (1883-1931). We can find in Gibran and Whitman's works that they shared strong similarity in their poetics and thoughts.

1

Gibran's prose poetry, first of all, is of the same origin as Whitman's in his creative language. Both of them are adept at creating original images by ingenious combination of words. Whitman often interweaves nonrepresentational things with familiar words, thus producing such powerful expressions as "I Sing the Body Electric", "To the Man-of-War-Bird", "Give me the splendid silent sun", "Over the carnage rose prophetic a voice", "Ethiopia saluting the colors", "Whispers of heavenly death", etc. (These are just some topics of his poems, and we can read more powerful expressions in the texts of his poems.) Gibran takes fresh gentle yet distinct popular words in his works to construct a new and refined linguistic style, which is abound in imagination and sensation with moral profundity and philosophical abstruseness. In his Arabic prose-poetry anthology Tears and Smiles, we can find such expressions as " the fair Azrael", " the virtuous mermaid", " the mysterious ghost", " the fairy that gives directions", " the kindly grandsire of era", " the fragrant girl of the forest", " God of sagaciousness", " the queen of fantasy", and " God of madness", etc.

In the second place, just like Whitman's poetry, Gibran's works possess an awfully aesthetic sense of music. Whitman's melodious poems have been highly appraised by many critics. …

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