Wednesday Wisdom: Maurice Maeterlinck

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As a child, I loved the play of The Bluebird that my grandfather read to me (and my mother before me). The beautiful story follows Mytyl and Tyltyl on their journey through strange yet familiar lands with the help of the good fairy Bérylune, meeting characters including anthropomorphised Night, Sugar, Water and Bread.

The Bluebird is a lovely book to read as a christmas classic, full of magic, whimsy and hope.

Maurice Maeterlinck didn’t just write fairy stories. He was also a poet and essayist, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1911. His work explored the meaning of life, death and nature with books including The Intelligence of the Flowers, and The Life of the Bee. He also studied termites and ants. Here are a few of my favourite quotes.

“An act of goodness is of itself an act of happiness. No reward coming after the event can compare with the sweet reward that went with it.”

“At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past.”

“When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.”

“Are we to believe that earth marks the most advanced stage and the most favoured experiment? What, then, can the thought of the universe have done and against what darkness must it have struggled, to have come no farther than this.”

“The truth that seems discouraging does in reality only transform the courage of those strong enough to accept it; and, in any event, a truth that disheartens, because it is true, is still of far more value than the most stimulating of falsehoods.”

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”

“Can we conceive what humanity would be if it did not know the flowers?”

“Remember that happiness is as contagious as gloom. It should be the first duty of those who are happy to let others know of their gladness.”

“Many a happiness in life, as many a disaster, can be due to chance, but the peace within us can never be governed by chance.”

“We possess only the happiness we are able to understand.”

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