This is a chapter from Gibran’s book, “The Madman”. My interpretation of this is:
He is being sarcastic in this description of mankind’s “perfect world” which is riddled with hypocrisy. There is a set plan, a correct way, rules laid out, a perfect order, but when the “order” interferes, man forgets them with “a wash of his hands”. Gibran asks what an imperfect soul like himself is doing in this “perfect world”.
Of course, the world is not perfect by any means once we look beneath the masks of daily life. Still, the perceptions of the outcast, the stranger, the madman, stand in stark contrast to that inner layer of people’s motives: hypocrisy, greed, pride, sloth, ambition, vanity, conformity. These people do not really see anything wrong with the ways of the world.
The Perfect World
God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods, hear me:
Gentle Destiny that watchest over us, mad, wandering spirits, hear me:
I dwell in the midst of a perfect race, I the most imperfect.
I, a human chaos, a nebula of confused elements, I move amongst finished worlds — peoples of complete laws and pure order, whose thoughts are assorted, whose dreams are arranged, and whose visions are enrolled and registered.
Their virtues, O God, are measured, their sins are weighed, and even the countless things that pass in the dim twilight of neither sin nor virtue are recorded and catalogued.
Here days and nights are divided into seasons of conduct and governed by rules of blameless accuracy.
To eat, to drink, to sleep, to cover one’s nudity, and then to be weary in due time.
To work, to play, to sing, to dance, and then to lie still when the clock strikes the hour.
To think thus, to feel thus much, and then to cease thinking and feeling when a certain star rises above yonder horizon.
To rob a neighbour with a smile, to bestow gifts with a graceful wave of the hand, to praise prudently, to blame cautiously, to destroy a soul with a word, to burn a body with a breath, and then to wash the hands when the day’s work is done.
To love according to an established order, to entertain one’s best self in a pre-conceived manner, to worship the gods becomingly, to intrigue the devils artfully — and then to forget all as though memory were dead.
To fancy with a motive, to contemplate with consideration, to be happy sweetly, to suffer nobly — and then to empty the cup so that tomorrow may fill it again.
All these things, O God, are conceived with forethought, born with determination, nursed with exactness, governed by rules, directed by reason, and then slain and buried after a prescribed method. And even their silent graves that lie within the human soul are marked and numbered.
It is a perfect world, a world of consummate excellence, a world of supreme wonders, the ripest fruit in God’s garden, the master-thought of the universe.
But why should I be here, O God, I a green seed of unfulfilled passion, a mad tempest that seeketh neither east nor west, a bewildered fragment from a burnt planet?
Why am I here, O God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods?