Dreams of Lebanon


Where would you go for your dream vacation? Hands down, I would head to Beirut, Lebanon. I met lots of friends in Paris whose families were Lebanese, or who were of Lebanese descent. Every little snippet I get only piqués my interest even more. There’s a rich and proud cultural tradition …

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… like famous poet Khalil Gibran. Gibran was born in Lebanon, traveled all over Europe and lived the majority of his life in the States. 1960s counter-culture claimed his most famous work of twenty-six poems, The Prophet, originally published in 1923, and which dealt with many universal themes, but above all others, love. Many compared him to William Blake or even called him the Lebanese Victor Hugo. I especially loved this poem about beauty.

Beauty XXV

And a poet said, “Speak to us of Beauty.”

Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?

And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?

The aggrieved and the injured say, “Beauty is kind and gentle.

Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us.”

And the passionate say, “Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.

Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us.”

The tired and the weary say, “beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.

Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow.”

But the restless say, “We have heard her shouting among the mountains,

And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions.”

At night the watchmen of the city say, “Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east.”

And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say, “we have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset.”

In winter say the snow-bound, “She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills.”

And in the summer heat the reapers say, “We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair.”

All these things have you said of beauty.

Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,

And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.

It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,

But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.

It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,

But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.

It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,

But rather a garden forever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.

People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.

But you are life and you are the veil.

Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.

But you are eternity and you are the mirror.

-Khalil Gibran
Being a true gourmand, I cannot neglect the life-changing cuisine of Lebanon. I love the more well known dishes like tabbouleh …
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… a lemony parsley and bulgur wheat salad. Or fatteh …
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… the yummiest way yet I’ve found to use stale, old bread.
But I also love trying more complicated recipes like fish with pine nut sauce (stay tuned next week for a more detailed description of that) from the beautiful cookbook
My two main citeria for travel include culture and food, both of which run amok in this beautiful, ancient country. Once you add in architecture like this …
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… dramatic scenery …
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… and the crossroads of French and Arabic languages …
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… there’s not (in my opinion) any more a destination needs to offer. Where is your dream destination, travelers?
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One thought on “Dreams of Lebanon

  1. Pingback: Fall foliage | Artsdevivre

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