Lessons Forgotten

Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?

He was a judge, a councilman,
my grandfather.
He taught me how much
the written word
mattered,
that good books read
helped one’s spirit grow,
excellent books devoured
only strengthened what
the soul already knows.
But when he tore that
Harlequin romance paperback
in two,
he told me that among great books,
there would be trash, too,
that none of them would enhance
a brain that continued
to always grow,
so read only the best, he said,
that’s all you need to know.

But if grandfather
were still alive today
would he like what he’d see?
What would he say
of the Kindles and the iPads
with their trashy books within?
Would he gnash his teeth
knowing I’ve gone past
Harlequin –
when he’d find out that among
the hundreds of books in my e-readers –
even the best,
there’s a trashy tale hidden here
and there, tucked in
with all the rest,
of whips and chains
and sex and gore
He’s probably rolling in his grave
right now –
for there’s even more.

Daily Prompt

The Little Prince

littleprince1

One of my favorite books growing up was Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.

I don’t even remember how I got it, but I do know that it wasn’t something that I would have picked out on my own because we didn’t learn about such books at school.  It was among the books that my mother stored on shelves above my childhood bed that included a cover-less copy of Harold Robbins’ The Adventurers and the classics such as Black Beauty and Robinson Crusoe.  

I still remember how the book felt in my hands. It was small and it was a quick read, but I had to read it a few times because it did not read like all the other classics I had read before.  It was almost cryptic at times.

How was I to know, a mere ten year old, what the book was really about?  When the fox says to the little prince, “One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye,” I understood it because it has since shaped the way I see the world.   But I could not understand then what the fox meant when he said, “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed” – that it meant more than just the taming of a small animal, of which I probably with my limited experiences, associated that sentence then.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve read The Little Prince and I’m due for a reread.  I stumbled across the dedication of the book today,  and it brought tears to my eyes.  It brought me back to that room with the custom-made bed and the shelves above it, all filled with books about adventures and worlds so different from my own.  And one of them, my favorite one, about a little prince stranded in the desert, so far from home.

littleprincededication
Image from Letters of Note

Leon Werth, a French writer and art critic, was a close friend and confidante to  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  He would not learn of the book nor the dedication till five months after Saint-Exupéry’s death in November 1944.