Saint-Exupéry uses a vivid simile to highlight the desperate and futile cost of trying to stem what was (at that time) an apparently invincible war machine.

We had reached the last days of 1940, a time of full retreat, of full disaster. Crew after crew was being offered up as a sacrifice. It was as if you dashed glassfuls of water into a forest fire in the hope of putting it out.

Yet, in the end, the war was won, and the invincible force vanquished.  One of the curious things about history is that people can, and sometimes do, win against all odds.  Watching a war unfold in Europe again, we can only pray this will be one such event; if will and courage could do it alone, they’d have won already.

See a similar sentiment from the same book.

Source: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, trans. by Lewis Galantière (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961), p. 7

Photo credit: boristrost at pixabay


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