Elm City Scrapbook is a column alternately written by Daniella Sanchez (MC ’25) and Catherine Kausikan (GH ’25), which each week reflects on a different artwork in and around New Haven.
A draft manuscript of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince features a page that never made it into the final book. It describes how each day, the little prince attends to his world with fretful domesticity. He sweeps and tidies and gardens. The dust from his planet drifts and settles in the cosmos, becoming stars that litter the pale sky.
Here at the Morgan Library, another sketch by Saint-Exupéry hangs nearby. This time, stars freckle the page around the little prince, who stands atop his planet. He frowns at a baobab tree that has rooted itself firmly into the rock. The tree is gnarled and beautiful. A few rooms away in the Morgan Library collection, my friend points out the leather spine of a book hundreds of years old. Its gilded text reads, “A Peep at the Stars.” All the stars I encountered at the Morgan were characterized by impermanence. They promised to disappear into dust, to grant only the tiniest of peeps at their light.
Recently, I’ve felt as if so many things precious and dear to me have fizzled into the darkness. It seems a truth of growing up that so many loves only revert to indifference, or fade into something strange and distant. I find myself more guarded, reserved, afraid. How do I let myself arrive at love when it takes off almost as soon as it has begun?
A few days ago, I reread The Little Prince. I don’t pretend it has all the answers, but still, I drank in its words as a gorgeous, simple consolation. “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” I don’t want to forget what it was like to love a best friend fiercely and without restraint at age 8, to fall foolishly in love with a boy at 17. Perhaps the losses are inevitable. Yet I will hold on to my stars, full of fear and hope. There will come new beauties––friends and lovers to whom I can give “stars as no one else has them.”
The Little Prince: Taking Flight is on at the Morgan Library & Museum through February 5, 2023, in New York City.