One thing I love about being an Etsy seller is that sometimes I send my artsyletters offerings to the four corners of the world. I've had customers in close to 20 countries. This week I received an order with a special request from France, and the message was sent via email rather than through Etsy, so there wasn't an option to translate on the spot. However, I was delighted to realize that my four years of French in high school and one in college were sufficient for me to make out its meaning! [I still used an online translator just to make sure, and sent my reply in English and via a copy from an online translator, though I did "check" that it looked right.]
And while items in my shop have a definite British Isles bent - I mean, my target market really is nerdy English-major types like myself - somewhow a few items for Francophiles continue to surface from my work table. Especially since I was able to procure some gorgeous letters and postcards and bank notes and such from centuries past, from a seller in France. (I often buy supplies from other corners of the earth, too.)
I am especially smitten with postcards and business receipts and such with layers of interesting text or handwriting in different hues of ink, all jumbled together - ahhhh. And while I do reproduce some antique maps etc. for items I make that I need more than one of (tourist-friendly items at a local shop here in Beaufort, etc.), I do prefer to just capture the actual text or image under glass as a one-of-a-kind snippet of history, such as the items in the picture above. I'll wrangle these into finished pieces and get some listed today, to join a few French items already listed.
I don't have an actual French poem to share today, but when I think about French writing, Le Petit Prince always come to mind. (I do have a copy in French somewhere...!) I have always adored this book, and even read it out loud to eighth graders - eighth graders! - back in the day when I briefly taught middle school English.
My love affair is shared by the world, evidently - did you know there was a The Little Prince theme park in France, near the German and Swiss borders? (See https://www.thelittleprince.com.) There's also a foundation. And closer to home, evidently a Broadway play just opened?
If you haven't read the story, it's just a treasure of creativity, love, loss, and hope. In fact, I read that aside from religious texts, it's the most translated book in the world. It features a pilot, stranded in the Sahara desert, who encounters a little prince requesting a drawing of a sheep. Throughout the tale, the young prince describes his journey across planets, and amusing and touching encounters which evoke universal themes.
The whole book seems poem-like to me, with its fairy tale qualities and compression into a deceptively simple form. (Saint-Exupery did write poetry and other works.) Plus, the art is charming. So for a taste of the book's voice, I'll just share a few sentences from the beginning, as the narrator, before meeting the book's subject, explains how he left a career in art at the tender age of 6, after an unsuccessful (according to others) couple of drawings.
The grown-ups then advised me to give up my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and to devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic and grammar. Thus it was that I gave up a magnificent career as a painter at the age of six. I had been disappointed by the lack of success of my drawing No. 1 and my drawing No. 2. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves and it is rather tedious for children to have to explain things to them time and again.
So I had to choose another job and I learnt to pilot aeroplanes.
[Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de. The Little Prince (pp. 10-11). GENERAL PRESS. Kindle Edition.]
The book was written while Saint-Exupery was in the United States. It was published in 1943, only a year before the author's plane disappeared on a mission in World War II.
Earth Day wasn't around in the 1940s, but I have a feeling The Little Prince would agree with its aims of nurturing this planet. And speaking of this planet, and of France, the world will be keeping an eye on the presidential election there this weekend I'm sure, with ramifications not just for France but for the war in Ukraine and political relations beyond.
Merci for joining me in this very rambling post today - be sure to pilot on over to see Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for this week's Roundup, and to catch up with the Kidlit Progressive Poem! Thanks for all the hosting, Margaret.