Thursday, July 10, 2008

for Lisa upon her son's death

The Beauty of Death dedicated to M.E.H. by Kahlil Gibran

Part One—The Calling

Let me sleep, for my soul is intoxicated with love, and

Let me rest, for my spirit has had its bounty of days

and nights;

Light the candles and burn the incense around my bed,


Scatter leaves of jasmine and roses over my body;

Embalm my hair with frankincense and sprinkle my

feet with perfume,

And read what the hand of Death has written on my


Let me rest in the arms of Slumber, for my open eyes

are tired;

Let the silver-stringed lyre quiver and soothe my spirit;

Weave from the harp and lute a veil around my wither-

ing heart.

Sing of the past as you behold the dawn of hope in my

eyes, for

Its magic meaning is a soft bed upon which my heart


Dry your tears, my friends, and raise your heads as the


Raise their crowns to greet the dawn.

Look at the bride of Death standing like a column of


Between my bed and the infinite;

Hold your breath and listen with me to the beckoning

rustle of

Her white wings.

Come close and bid me farewell; touch my eyes with

smiling lips.

Let the children grasp my hands with soft and rosy


Let the aged place their veined hands upon my head

and bless me;

Let the virgins come close and see the shadow of God

in my eyes,

And hear the echo of His will racing with my breath.

Part Two—The Ascending

I have passed a mountain peak and my soul is soaring

in the

Firmament of complete and unbound freedom;

I am far, far away, my companions, and the clouds are

Hiding the hills from my eyes.

The valleys are becoming flooded with an ocean of

silence, and the

Hands of oblivion are engulfing the roads and the


The prairies and fields are disappearing behind a white


That looks like the spring cloud, yellow as the candle-


And red as the twilight.

The songs of the waves and the hymns of streams

Are scattered, and the voices of the throngs reduced to


And I can hear naught but the music of Eternity

In exact harmony with the spirit’s desires.

I am cloaked in full whiteness;

I am in comfort; I am in peace.

Part Three—The Remains

Unwrap me from this white linen shroud and clothe me

With leaves of jasmine and lilies;

Take my body from the ivory casket and let it rest

Upon pillows of orange blossoms.

Lament me not, but sing songs of youth and joy;

Shed not tears upon me, but sing of harvest and the


Utter no sigh of agony, but draw upon my face with


Finger the symbol of Love and Joy.

Disturb not the air’s tranquility with chanting and


But let your hearts sing with me the song of Eternal


Mourn me not with apparel of black,

But dress in color and rejoice with me;

Talk not of my departure with sighs in your hearts;


Your eyes and you will see me with you forevermore.

Place me upon clusters of leaves and

Carry me upon your friendly shoulders and

Walk slowly to the deserted forest.

Take me not to the crowded burying ground lest my


Be disrupted by the rattling of bones and skulls,

Carry me to the cypress woods and dig my grave where


And poppies grow not in the other’s shadow;

Let my grave be deep so that the flood will not

Carry my bones to the open valley;

Let my grave be wide, so that the twilight shadows

Will come and sit by me.

Take from me all earthly raiment and place me deep

in my

Mother Earth; and place me with care upon my

mother’s breast.

Cover me with soft earth, and let each handful be


With seeds of jasmine, lilies, and myrtle; and when they

Grow above me and thrive on my body’s element, they


Breathe the fragrance of my heart into space;

And reveal even to the sun the secret of my peace;

And sail with the breeze and comfort the wayfarer.

Leave me then, friend—leave me and depart on mute


As the silence walks in the deserted valley;

Leave me to God and disperse yourselves slowly, as

the almond

And apple blossoms disperse under the vibration of

Nisan’s breeze.

Go back to the joy of your dwelling and you will find


That which Death cannot remove from you and me.

Leave this place, for what you see here is faraway in


From the earthly world. Leave me.

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