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Desiderata

April 17, 2011

Hanging on the family room wall is a copy of the prose poem Desiderata (Latin: desired things) by Max Ehrmann (a Hoosier!) in 1927. It is timeless and has always been one of my favorites.

The copy in the family room belonged to my brother Johnny, who had it hanging on his bedroom door when we were teens.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

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9 comments

  1. This has always been one of my favorites as well! The copy I have says it was never known who it was written by but that it was found in a church. So thanks for this info:-D


    • My copy says the same thing. Sometime in the early 2000s I first heard of Max Erhmann. At first I was disappointed because I liked the idea of unknown author leaving timeless wisdom in an obscure church.


      • So then, since I’ve never heard of this guy, is Max a usurper or is such detail info or intox?
        I too like the found in a church legend :-D


      • Nah, he wasn’t a usurper. The Desiderata poem was mostly unknown during his life. He wrote other poetry when he wasn’t busy being a stodgy lawyer.


      • Somehow, knowing this new info about the author makes me somewhat sad. Oh well. That’s new fodder for thought. And so, I’ll be posting it tomorrow–all except the info about the author– for that my readers will have to check out your posting. (Seems “unfaithful” of me childhood memories to share such info. Kind of like telling a kid that the T…Ooops, I’m not going to expose that secret. You never know who’s reading our blogs…LOL :-D


        • That’s how I felt when I learned the info too! Kinda sad. It’s far less romantic than having been found in a church in the late 1600s. And you are right. One never knows who is reading. :)


          • Nice to know I’m not alone on this :-D


            • Orrrr… people were getting close to finding out which ancient church this was found in, and were pursuing the name of the author. Some things shouldn’t be known,,as names have power and thoughts are things. Since Max was a high adept in a very (very) secret society, it was felt he should take the fall and divert interest until people got lost in the minutia of worldly possessions again, and forgot about the original author. Max assumed the guise of that manner of man least likely to be questioned, and generally avoided by most people, a lawyer. It’s nice to see his sacrifice was not for naught. :-)


  2. […] To honor my childhood memory, I shan’t put the information I discovered in MY post, but you can find it here. […]



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