Speeches

Stanwood Cobb wrote that Abdu’l Bahá ‘almost never stood still when He spoke. He paced back and forth and His words were enhanced rather than diminished by the presence of the translator. Abdu’l Bahá would make a statement which the translator would then translate. While the translator put the words into English Abdu’l Bahá would stand and smile, occasionally nodding to affirm important points or as if to approve of the translation. He constantly illumined this translation with the dynamic power of His own spiritual personality. When He spoke: ‘the Persian words … boomed forth almost as musically as in operatic recitatives. While He spoke, He was in constant and majestic motion. To hear Him was an experience unequalled in any other kind of platform delivery. It was a work of art, as well as a spiritual service. First, would come the spiritual flow of thought, musically expressed in a foreign tongue. Then, as the translator set forth its meaning to us, we had the added pleasure of watching Abdu’l Bahá’s response to the art of the translator. It was, all in all, a highly colorful and dramatic procedure.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 74)