Albion Interactive History / People / Khalil Gibran

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / People / Starr Commonwealth

Khalil Gibran
Famous Poet


A week after publication of The Prophet, Starr included verses in his many speeches, church services, and correspondence. After a time Starr felt so intimate with Gibran that heresolved to meet him that he might tell him how much The Prophet meant to him.

It so happened that his friend Upton Close, the political pundit of thetwenties, lived with his wife Alice only a few blocks from the poet in New York City. On Sunday afternoon when Starr was out for a stroll with them, Close pointed to an apartment house and said, “That’s where your friend Khalil Gibran lives.”

In his usual decisive manner Starr replied, “I want to meet him.” Close shook his dead. “I can’t help you and I don’t know anyone who can. Gibran is said to be the most unavailable man inNew York City.”

Starr said no more, but did not forget the poets address. A few days later a strange thing happened. As Starr told the tale, “While I was on a street-car on my way to visit a Mrs. Burt, a voice as clear as my own voice said, ‘If you would seeKahlil Gibran, go see him at once.’ So I got out of the car, walked to his apartment nearby, and looked at the register. There was his name, and there was his apartment on the third floor.”

Up two short flights of stairs, then up two more flights, and there before him was a door with a brass knocker engraved with the name “Gibran.” “After I rapped softly,” Starr continued, “the door opened and there stood a man exactly my age, my size and my build.”

Starr wasted no words. “I have come to see Khalil Gibran,” he said. “I am he,” acknowledged the poet, “but I have a guest. Can you come some other time?”

“No,” Starr said, “that won’t be necessary. I came mainly to thank you for writing TheProphet.” Gibran looked at Starr keenly. “I think you should come in,” he said, and held open the door. In the conversation that ensured Gibran asked Starr, “What do you do?”

“Well,” Starr replied a bit hesitantly, “I work with so-called bad boys.”

“Oh, bad boys!” exclaimed Gibran. “How I envy you! I love bad boys. The worse theyare, the more I love them!”

These words were hardly what Starr expected, and they led to a spirited discussion in which the two found much in common.When finally Starr rose to go, he urged the poet to come to the Commonwealth, stay as long as he would, and learn “to love his boys.” The visit was not to be. In 1931, just three years later, Kahlil Gibran died. Only months before, Gibran had sent Starr severalmanuscript pages from The Prophet. Until Starr moved into Candler Hall years later, he kept these in a little Korean chest upstairs in Gladsome Cottage. Today they are in the Brueckner Museum.

Source: Keith Fennimore. Faith Made Visible: The History of Floyd Starr and His School. Albion, Michigan: Starr Commonwealth. 1988.

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