The Great Arab-American Painter, Poet, and Philosopher Kahlil Gibran on Why Artists Make Art

In a letter to Haskell penned on November 10, 1911, Gibran writes:

There is an old Arabic song which begins “Only God and I know what is in my heart” — and today, after rereading your last three letters, I said out loud “Only God and Mary and I know what is in my heart.” I would open my heart and carry it in my hand so that others may know also; for there is no deeper desire than the desire of being revealed. We all want that little light in us to be taken from under the bushel. The first poet must have suffered much when the cave-dwellers laughed at his mad words. He would have given his bow and arrows and lion skin, everything he possessed, just to have his fellow-men know the delight and the passion which the sunset had created in his soul. And yet, is it not this mystic pain — the pain of not being known — that gives birth to art and artists?

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