Red Rose – Jacki Kellum Watercolor
“…[the flower] chose her colors with the greatest of care. She dressed herself slowly. She adjusted her petals one by one. She did not wish to go out into the world all rumpled, like the field poppies.” – The Little Prince
The Little Prince is a small book with a very large message. On the surface, the prince is telling how he had fled his home asteroid because of a red rose whom he had loved very greatly but had abandoned because she had become very demanding. Upon closer study, however, it becomes apparent that the prince [and de Saint-Exupery, who wrote the book] are speaking about the loss of their own muses–their inner selves–their essences. In this way, the message of The Little Prince is much the same as that of William Blake, when he cautioned mankind against the losses of their imaginations. Here
The result of losing one’s ability to imagine or to feel is a state that William Blake called Experience, which is the state of becoming hardened and emotionally old. After the little prince leaves his sweet red rose, he finds himself stranded in a distant desert. The Little Prince was written about twenty years after The Waste Land was published, and it seems that the Little Prince’s desert is much the same as Eliot’s Waste Land.
I. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD
from Eliot’s The Waste Land
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
In describing humanity’s fall into the dry and parched Waste Land state, Antoine de Saint-Exupery and TS Eliot are messengers who carried the voice of William Blake into the twentieth century. The message is a warning against becoming emotionally old. James M. Barrie wrote the same type of emotional aging in Peter Pan, which was published at about the same time as The Waste Land was published.
Undoubtedly, everyone ages. Time is unstoppable, but I subscribe to Blake’s views that we are not obligated to become prisoners of time, and we do not have to become old–ever! I am not advocating the Peter Pan syndrome and claiming that “I’ll never grow up.” Growing old is not the same thing as growing up. Growing old has to do with the way that a person chooses to process the experiences of his life.
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens – by Arthur Rackham
“You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.” – James M. Barrie
[ Author of Peter Pan]
Writers have a tool that they can use to control the ravages of time.
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner
Most of us would like to forget or bury some of the chapters of our pasts, but that is not actually possible. In trying to forget who we are and where we have been, we only succeed in numbing ourselves and killing our authentic writing voices. The secret to becoming a better writer is to tap into your past and to harness it and to allow it to sail you forward. That is the secret to dealing with time, too. Everyone would be better served if they would write because writing is a way that we cope with the painful parts of our pasts. Here Writing is a way that we pause the treadmill of time and rise above it.
©Jacki Kellum July 28, 2016
Peter Pan was published in 1904
The Waste Land was published 1922
The Little Prince was published in 1943