I was in secondary school when I discovered the poetry of the Lebanese-American, Kahlil Gibran. By the time I read his work, “On Clothes,” my identical twin brother and myself were already staunch bare-practitioners and ever since that moment, I have been an avid fan of Mr. Gibran and his words. He remains one of my favorite poets of all-time even today.
This poem, “on Clothes,” continues to resonate with me. Not only does Kahlil Gibran discount the superficiality of clothing, he extols the virtues of nudity and simplicity. His work, in its entirety, follows below.
by Kahlil Gibran
And the weaver said, “Speak to us of clothes.”
And he answered: “Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful.
And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy, you find in them a harness and a chain.
Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your skin and less of your rainment,
For the breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind.
Some of you say, “It is the north wind who has woven the clothes to wear.”
But shame was his loom, and the softening of the sinews was his thread.
And when his work was done he laughed in the forest.
Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean.
And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind?
And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
In this poem, not only does Mr. Kahlil Gibran extol the virtues of nudity, he also discredits the decency of clothing. He likens garments as nothing more than as a shield for the eyes of the unclean or the corrupted. In other words, by implication, only a lewd-thinking or impure mind would even consider any type or form of body covering a necessity. The self-confident or “pure-of-heart” have no obvious need of clothing.
Those of us who are bare practitioners aren’t all that conscious of our nudity or absence of any type of body covering. For the vast majority of us, our being nude is the “norm” and anyone wearing clothing is the extraordinary and unusual. Strangely, it’s the clothes-wearers who have issues with us, the clothes-free! As Gibran points out in his opening reply to the weaver: “your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful.”
In his closing of this poem, Gibran reminds all of us of a basic truth that we all know and understand: our nudity is completely natural and compatible with nature and beauty.
Of course, poetry is an art. And just like visual art, the beauty is in the eyes and mind of the person experiencing the work. The reasons why this poem appeals to me may not be meaningful to another.
Roger/ ReNude Pride