The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
‘At the time, this astronomer made a grand presentation of his discovery before an International Congress of Astronomy. But since he was wearing Turkish national costume nobody would believe him. Grown-ups are like that… Fortunately for the reputation of Asteroid B612, a Turkish dictator ordered his subjects, on pain of death, to convert to European dress. In 1920 our astronomer repeated his demonstration, wearing elegant evening dress. This time everyone accepted his proofs’.
The next planet was inhibited by a drinker. This visit was very short, but it plunged the little prince into a deep melancholy.
“What are you doing here?” he said to the drinker, whom he found settled silently before a collection of empty bottles and a collection of full bottles.
“I’m drinking,” said the drinker, with a mournful air.
‘Why are you drinking?’ asked the little prince.
‘To forget,’ replied the drinker.
‘To forget what?’ enquired the little prince, who was already starting to feel sorry for him.
‘To forget that I’m ashamed,’ confessed the drinker, hanging his head.
‘Ashamed of what?’ persisted the little prince, who wanted to help him.
‘Ashamed for drinking!’ concluded the drinker, retreating into permanent silence.
And the little prince went away…
… ‘What affects me so strongly about this sleeping prince is his loyalty to a flower, to the image of a rose, which shines inside him like the flame of a lamp, even as he sleeps…’
… ‘No,’ said the little prince. ‘I’m looking for friends. What does ‘tame’ mean?’
‘Something that is frequently neglected,’ said the fox. ‘It means “to create ties”.’
‘To create ties?’
‘Precisely,’ said the fox. ‘To me, you are still only small boy, just like hundred thousand other small boys. And I have no need of you. And you in turn have no need of me. To you, I just like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in the world. To you I shall be unique in the world.’
The little went off to look at the roses again.
‘You are nothing like my rose,’ he told them. ‘And yet you’re nothing at all. Nobody has tamed you, and you have tamed nobody. You are as my fox used to be. He was just a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I made him my friend, and now he is unique in the world…you’re beautiful, but you’re empty.’
‘Now here is my secret, very simply: you can only see things clearly with your heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.’