po·e·sy n. pl. po·e·sies 1. Poetical works; poetry. 2. The art or practice of composing poems. 3. The inspiration involved in composing poetry. [Middle English poesie, from Old French, from Latin posis, from Greek poisis, from poiein, to create; see kwei-2 in Indo-European roots.]

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Friday, June 29, 2007

June 29 -- Antoine de Saint Exupery

Photo source Agence France-Presse

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (June 29, 1900 – presumably July 31, 1944)

French writer and aviator, born in Lyon, France. He disappeared on the night of July 31, 1944 while flying on a mission to collect data on German troop movements, all evidence pointing to a crash into the Mediterranean Sea.

One of his most famous works is Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), a children's story about a lonely, misunderstood aviator forced, due to engine trouble, to land in the Sahara Desert. There he meets a small visitor from another planet and calls him the little prince....

I first read this sweet, sad story when I was young. I believed I understood it, likely nodded to myself in agreement with the little prince that grownups were very peculiar indeed.

Reading it again from an older perspective, I find it much more than a simple children's story. There's a profound statement here about the human condition, about the foolish things people believe are important, how man has lost his childish wonder, his ability to imagine, to believe.

My feelings were somewhat similar to those I had when reading Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, a parody of the times (mid 1700s) and a pointed satire that exposes human foibles in an Emperor's New Clothes kind of way.

But The Little Prince does it in a wistful, wishful manner, and unlike my sense of amusement at Swift's work, I felt the same melancholy that the aviator had at the end.

Here are the last two paragraphs of The Little Prince:

For you who also love the little prince, and for me, nothing in the universe can be the same if somewhere, we do not know where, a sheep that we never saw has eaten a rose...

Look up at the sky. Ask yourselves: is it yes or no? Has the sheep eaten the flower? And you will see how everything changes...

And no grown-up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance!

This is, to me, the loveliest and saddest landscape in the world. It is the same as that on the preceding page, but I have drawn it again to impress it on your memory. It is here that the little prince appeared on Earth, and disappeared.

Look at it carefully so that you will be sure to recognise it in case you travel some day to the African desert. And, if you should come upon this spot, please do not hurry on. Wait for a time, exactly under the star. Then, if a little man appears who laughs, who has golden hair and who refuses to answer questions, you will know who he is. If this should happen, please comfort me. Send me word that he has come back.


Friday, June 01, 2007

My verse appears in public --

I'm pleased to announce my children's verse - Advice to a Younger Brother appears is the summer issue of Bumbershoot, an online literary magazine. Read it here