Book Review: The Broken Wings, by Kahlil Gibran

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Some writers only tread this earth like a passing wind, but leave their footprints buried deep in its core. These writers live words, survive on words, and upon their departure leave words with fragrance that pierce through time and space, words as beautiful as the statue of Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty) sculptured by the lustful fingers of her loyal follower, and filled with the wild emotions swirling in his palpitating heart. Such was Kahlil Gibran, only that the beauty woven into the pages of his book, BROKEN WINGS, is not of Aphrodite, but of the one whose beauty could strip Aphrodite completely off her charms. Her name, Selma Karamy.

"The beauty of Selma's face was not classic; it was like a dream of revelation which cannot be measured or bound or copied by the brush of a painter or the chisel of a sculptor. Selma's beauty was not in her golden hair, but in the virtue of purity which surrounded it; not in her large eyes, but in the light which emanated from them; not in her red lips, but in the sweetness of her words; not in her ivory neck, but in its slight bow to the front. Nor was it in her perfect figure, but in the nobility of her spirit, burning like a white torch between earth and sky. Her beauty was like a gift of poetry..."

This book takes us through the personal experience of a young man Kahlil Gibran modelled after himself, and through his eyes we could see what glory love possessed when it came out (guided by the scents of roses, jasmine and gardenia) seeking two hearts, and the doom written on its face when these hearts became like nightingales with broken wings.

The story began in the eighteenth year of Kahlil’s existence, at a time when the gardens of the city of Beirut, Lebanon heeded the call of spring and thus bloomed with Nisan flowers. During this time providence took him to the house of Farris Effendi Karamy, a childhood friend of his father, where he met his daughter, Selma. There, love opened his eyes with its magical rays and breathe life into his dying soul. Her gaze freed him from the bondage of his youth and, like a butterfly attracted to a flower, he continued visiting Karamy's to revel in Selma's alluring beauty until the night Selma’s heart whispered back, and love was born in a garden and witnessed by the heavenly eyes of the night sky. 

That same night her father came home with the sad news of her betrothal to the bishop’s nephew, an evil man named Mansur Galib. And like dew, darkness fell upon the household of Farris Effendi Karamy, and the two hearts that tasted of love's sweetness also tasted its bitterness. This, however, was not the end, but the beginning of an endless story of love and sorrow.

The plot really isn't the best part of the story. No, it is the way Gibran modeled different emotions in the alluring words of poetry that will leave you stunned. Even when the story ends, you don't want it to end because you have created another existence for yourself in the book. An existence where you'd love to live forever. An existence only lovers of poetry can truly understand. But who wouldn't love poetry after reading this writer's words?

Gibran may have come short of certain expectations, though as he did not give us a full grasp of what the antagonists were like. They were real but didn't feel so real. He didn't give a vivid description of how life was from their angle, given that revolt against social and religious structures form a central element of his book. But then, he stated clearly in a paragraph: "Why do I occupy these pages with words about the betrayers of poor nations instead of reserving all the space for the story of a miserable woman with a broken heart?" You will agree with me that Gilbran is quite good at tieing up loose ends.

Broken wings is a poetic tale of unending love, beauty, loss, pain, religious corruption and greed. Its tragic ending turns the story into both a scathing denunciation of clerical corruption and a spirited defense of women’s rights. It draws its readers so deep into the world of Khalil that they feel his joy, pain and the weight of the shackles which imprisoned him forever in the heart of Selma. For everyone with a heart, this book is a must read and I rate it 4.5 out of 5. You will find his other books here.

Gibran Kahlil Gibran

Gibran Kahlil Gibran was born January 6, 1883, in Bsharri, Lebanon. He is a Lebanese-American artist, poet and writer. He is the third best-selling poet of all time behind Shakespeare and Lao Tzu. he died April 10, 1931.


First published in Arabic in 1912
Paper Back: 100 pages
Recent Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 29, 2017) in English.



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