Dear Mili

Wilhelm Grimm, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Dear Mili,

I’m sure you have gone walking in the woods or in green meadows, and passed a clear, flowing brook. And you’ve tossed a flower into the brook, a red one, a blue one, or a snow-white one. It drifted away, and you followed it with your eyes as far as you could. And it went quietly away with the little waves, farther and farther, all day long and all night too, by the light of the moon or the stars. It didn’t need much light, for it knew the way and it didn’t get lost. When it had traveled for three days without stopping to rest, another flower came along on another brook. A child like you, but far far away from here, had tossed it into a brook at the same time. The two flowers kissed, and went their way together and stayed together until they both sank to the bottom. You have also seen a little bird flying away over the mountain in the evening. Perhaps you thought it was going to bed; not at all, another little bird was flying over other mountains, and when all was dark on the earth, the two of them met in the last ray of sunshine. The sun shone bright on their feathers, and as they flew back and forth in the light they told each other many things that we on the earth below could not hear. You see, the brooks and the flowers and the birds come together, but people do not; great mountains and rivers, forests and meadows, cities and villages lie in between, they have their set places and cannot be moved, and humans cannot fly. But one human heart goes out to another, undeterred by what lies between. Thus does my heart go out to you, and though my eyes have not seen you yet, it loves you and thinks it is sitting beside you. And you say: “Tell me a story.” And it replies: “Yes, dear Mili, just listen.”