One will weave the canvas; another will fell a tree by the light of his ax. Yet another will forge nails, and there will be others who observe the stars to learn how to navigate. And yet all will be as one. Building a boat isn’t about weaving canvas, forging nails, or reading the sky. It’s about giving a shared taste for the sea, by the light of which you will see nothing contradictory but rather a community of love.

[Celui-là tissera des toiles, l’autre dans la forêt par l’éclair de sa hache couchera l’arbre. L’autre, encore, forgera des clous, et il en sera quelque part qui observeront les étoiles afin d’apprendre à gouverner. Et tous cependant ne seront qu’un. Créer le navire ce n’est point tisser les toiles, forger les clous, lire les astres, mais bien donner le goût de la mer qui est un, et à la lumière duquel il n’est plus rien qui soit contradictoire mais communauté dans l’amour.]

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944) French writer, aviator
Citadelle [The Wisdom of the Sands] (1948)

This looks to be the origin of the following, more common quotations attributed to Saint-Exupery:
  • "If you wish to build a ship, do not divide the men into teams and send them to the forest to cut wood. Instead, teach them to long for the vast and endless sea."
  • "If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
  • "If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men and women to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."
  • "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the workers to gather wood, don't divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."
More discussion: Teach Them to Yearn for the Vast and Endless Sea – Quote Investigator.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 22-Oct-21
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