Thursday, February 7, 2008

Antoine de Saint-Exupery Quotes

Antoine de Saint-Exupery is most famous for writing "The Little Prince", a classic children's book. I was looking for a story in which he recounts being in a Spanish Fascist prison the night before his scheduled execution. He had cigarettes and no matches, and his jailer had matches and nothing to light. With a plaintive expression , he held out his unlit cigarette to his jailer, offering him a smoke as well.
The communication between jailer and prisoner established Saint Exupery's humanity in the eyes of his jailer, who unlocked his cell and went to lunch, wordlessly inviting him to escape.
I was not able to find the story, but having lost it I found some Saint-Exupery quotes. It is fortuitous that I lost the original story because I found other quotes of his that have depth and resonance. It seems to be the a recurring theme in my life that in seeking that which I have lost I often find things I didn't know were missing.
Here are a few of the quotes.
A civilization is built on what is required of men, not on that which is provided for them.

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.

Charity never humiliated him who profited from it, nor ever bound him by the chains of gratitude, since it was not to him but to God that the gift was made.

He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

It is such a secret place, the land of tears.

Life has meaning only if one barters it day by day for something other than itself.

Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction.
Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

The notion of looking on at life has always been hateful to me. What am I if I am not a participant? In order to be, I must participate.

Only he can understand what a farm is, what a country is, who shall have sacrificed part of himself to his farm or country, fought to save it, struggled to make it beautiful. Only then will the love of farm or country fill his heart.

I offer my apologies to Saint Exupery for my pale recounting of his story. Aside from his gifts with language, no one can better report walking away from death's door than one who has done so. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Mary Mikawoz said...

It was in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series of books. I too am looking for it and can not remember which version it is in. Perhaps the first one.

It really struck a chord with me. MM