November 7, 2020

“Defeat”—A Life-Changing Poem for Dark Times by Kahlil Gibran.

The last few months have been dark.

For the Americans, the last few days and weeks have been darker. Along with the pandemic that has changed life as we knew it, they are also struggling with political and social upheaval. Despite the impending news of a change of guard at the White House, the American presidential elections have uncovered a deep abyss within the social fiber that has perhaps existed for a while.

Amidst the relief and celebrations, there is defeat too—in the realization that an incredibly large number of people espouse values that are the antithesis of any and all American (and global) values and the basic tenets of humanity.

As we face a continuous slew of challenges globally, from illness and disease, economic struggles, climate crisis, racial and religious tensions, to natural disasters—storms, floods, fires, it is natural to feel defeated, at times. The pandemic continues, and apart from the visible sickness and death, it is now leading to emotional fatigue and mental health concerns. Some of us may be feeling stuck, desolate, and frustrated.

Khalil Gibran has some wise words to offer that are empowering and offer us an opportunity to relook and change our relationship with defeat and the perceived emotions that follow.

It took me a few reads to feel its essence, and I often read it (or listen to this soulful rendition) as a reminder to embrace any and all situations that come our way.

Listen here, and read below:

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Defeat by Kahlil Gibran

Defeat, my Defeat, my solitude and my aloofness;
You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs,
And sweeter to my heart than all world-glory.

Defeat, my Defeat, my self-knowledge and my defiance,
Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot
And not to be trapped by withering laurels.
And in you I have found aloneness
And the joy of being shunned and scorned.

Defeat, my Defeat, my shining sword and shield,
In your eyes I have read
That to be enthroned is to be enslaved,
And to be understood is to be leveled down,
And to be grasped is but to reach one’s fullness
And like a ripe fruit to fall and be consumed.

Defeat, my Defeat, my bold companion,
You shall hear my songs and my cries and my silences,
And none but you shall speak to me of the beating of wings,
And urging of seas,
And of mountains that burn in the night,
And you alone shall climb my steep and rocky soul.

Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,
You and I shall laugh together with the storm,
And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,
And we shall stand in the sun with a will,
And we shall be dangerous.

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