By Richard Mc Sweeney,
Special to Ya Libnan
A historic day in Lebanon for Ireland and a dream come true for one Irishman when he recently presented a paper on the renowned Lebanese poet, philosopher and artist Gibran Khalil Gibran's work The Prophet.
On the memorable afternoon of Wednesday the 5th April 2006 Richard Mc Sweeney of Ireland presented a paper titled 'Meeting in another dream - The Prophet reborn as Myriam of Lebanon' at an International Conference held at the University Saint-Esprit de Kaslik commemorating the 75th anniversary of Gibran's passing.
Mr Mc Sweeney's paper outlined the major influences that led him to produce his manuscript titled 'Myriam of Lebanon – A lyrical philosophy of ambiance steadfastly established on Gibran Khalil Gibran's The Prophet.
The work Myriam of Lebanon which he debuted at the conference and which was very warmly received was presented as a genuine, authentic and transparent attempt to construct in the first instance a regional paradigm bridge of beauty in expression, freedom in thought and magnificence in work between the ancient cultures of Ireland and Lebanon: all thanks to the genius of Gibran Khalil Gibran.
Besides participating in the conference which was inaugurated by the Lebanese Minister of Culture, Dr Tarek Metri, and ran from the 3rd to the 6th of April, Mr Mc Sweeney had a chance to visit the Gibran Museum in the stunningly beautiful hill country of Bsharri (pictured right). Higher up on the snow-covered slopes of Mount Lebanon he visited Lebanon's grove of famed cedar trees known as Arz ar-Rabb.
Lebanese poetess Dr. Rouba Saba Habib treated Mr Mc Sweeney to a tour of downtown Beirut of strolling along among its beautifully restored buildings, and later to a splendid lunch overlooking one of Beirut's most famous symbols the Raouche Rocks. He enjoyed listening to her recite and talk about her poetry, in particular one concerning woman and the sea.
During his stay in Lebanon Mr Mc Sweeney was deeply touched by the joyful, strong-spirited attitude of the people he met, in particular of a number of very bright university students. One student told him that while they seemingly have all the troubles of the world in Lebanon, they have a great love for each other and a joyful outlook on life, and they felt that while the people in Europe would appear to be greatly organized show much indifference towards their fellow human being, and in general are inclined to be way too serious about life and the future. They were often saddened they told him when visiting European countries by the lack of smiling faces they met in the streets.
In his work Myriam of Lebanon Mr Mc Sweeney makes the following encouraging comment which has a particular resonance for not alone the people Lebanon but also for the people of his native Ireland when he says,
"People of Éirelese this profound self-knowledge would I have you wear with pride and courage in your hearts - that your youth and your spirit is greater by far than your Joyce, and not that your Joyce is by far your greater.
For so it is in my land of my Lebanon - that our youth and our spirit is greater by far than our Gibran, and not that our Gibran is by far our greater.
Arise off your calloused knees people of Éirelese, and happily be with making your own mythologies;
For our days and our nights will not be less generous to you than to my strong-spirited, joyful and youthful-hearted Lebanese."
According to Mr Mc Sweeney the Lebanon of the international media and cinema is not the Lebanon of the Lebanese people. Lebanon of the people he found to be full of welcome, warmth and joy. He found a people passionately in love with their country and deeply hurt by the assassination last year of their former president Rafiq al-Hariri, and also of their much beloved and respected journalist Gibran Tueni.
Besides the warm-hearted people of Lebanon themselves Mr Mc Sweeney also experienced the beauteous landscape of their Lebanon. This is often a side of Lebanon that people abroad never get to hear of even see. He sees it as a world of stunning beauty from its snow-capped mountains down to its verdant lowlands along the shimmering waters of the Mediterranean. He is of the belief that we are but guests in nature. And being a guest necessitates that we be respectful towards our gracious and generous host for the continuity of a country's beauty depends very much upon the people, and on how they culture their children from a young age to respect nature as a life in itself.
As an Irishman Mr Mc Sweeney was truly proud to be invited to Lebanon to make this little bit of philosophy-poetry history for himself, his family and his homeland as well as make a worthwhile contribution to a greater understanding and advancement of human society worldwide.
Richard Mc Sweeney is a rural Irish philosopher who expresses his ideas through the medium of poetry although he would be slow to call himself a poet. He has spent thirteen years in the Republic of Korea studying Oriental Philosophy. He also spent a number of years in the Middle East deepening his understating of Sufism in particular and Islam in general.
He has spent the last five years living a semi-hermitic lifestyle in an idyllic hamlet in his native Ireland with his wife and two children. He makes known his ideas to the world through his own website. Gibran's The Prophet has been his constant companion with close on thirty years. He has had it since his college days in Ireland when he was first introduced to it while listening to a musical interpretation narrated by his fellow countryman the actor Richard Harris. Whenever he has been in need of solace and inspiration, he would turn to it and find it always to have a welcome for him.
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