"The Broken Wings" by Kahlil Gibran (Book Review and PDF)

Khalil Gibran Broken wings book cover

Akinyemi's journal


Kahlil Gibran never wrote words; he painted them with lustful fingers.

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...


The broken wings 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 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. 

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 are like. They are real but don't feel so real. He didn't give a vivid description of how life is 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?" This is a good way to tie up the loose end, if you ask me.

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.
Akinyemi's journal


Author: Kahlil Gibran
Language of publication: Arabic 
Year of publication: 1912
Number of pages: 100 pages
Recent Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 29, 2017) in English.

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