Desiderata

This poem has some of the most profound advice that I’ve ever read.

Desiderata
By Max Ehrmann, 1927

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 and 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.

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 12 years and three fabulous felines.

16 thoughts on “Desiderata”

  1. I came across your blog because of the Tammy Faye post. :( And I stayed to look around – I love it. My sons were told many years ago that they are to read Desiderata before they scatter my ashes. Thanks for posting it!

  2. This is so beautiful, it’s probably one of the most beautiful things ever written. I found you here with Desiderata after clicking over from Moonbeam’s blog, and when I saw the poem I was somewhat shocked at myself because I had completely forgotten about it. How could this be? A long time ago I loved it and was so enchanted that I thought I’d never forget it. Thank for posting it here, and reminding me how breathtaking these words really are.

  3. Not to compare it with Desiderata, but Mary Schmich’s “Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)” commencement address has some lovely things in it that I also need to remind myself of. I happened to think of it because of the confusion caused when a man named Luhrmann recorded it, and people starting assuming it was Max Ehrmann. Anyway, thanks for Desiderata.

  4. Yes! It was written by a Chicago columnist in 1999 who said if she were ever asked to speak at a graduation commencement this is what she’d say. Then Baz Luhrmann recorded it and this urban legend started that it was written by the same poet who wrote Desiderata. You can listen to it for free on http://www.projectplaylist.com. I had to go and listen to it this morning when I thought of it. It’s got some great advice in there.

  5. Another good piece of literature in the same vein as Desiderata;

    If by Rudyard Kipling

    If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: If you can dream – and not make dreams your master, If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breath a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!” If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son! Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

  6. I have this poem on my Myspace page. I love this poem. My myspace link is http://www.myspace.com/jbharvest. I posted it in Oct. 2007.

    Yes, you are right accessories are necessary. The blog I wrote today goes into the fact that when I lose all my weight I want to dress like a hippie. I think I just want to go back in time. I’m 58 and getting younger everyday.

    I hope you don’t mind but I must add you to my blogroll. You are too awesome not to.

  7. I have been engaged with a practical philosophy course and school for more than thirty years – I’m 62 now – which is based on the Vedic concept of Advaita (not twoness) and the conversations between the school’s founder and the Shankaracharya Shri Shantananda Saraswati, both of whom passed away in 1994. In persuing this course I have studied far and wide – the Upanishads, Shakespeare, Plato, Marsilio Ficino, etc., etc. – and for a number of years I have been assisting in presenting the introductory ten week course in London at the School of Economic Science and the more I understand and appreciate the unity amid the diversity the more I have come to appreciate the quiet wisdom of Desiderata. Yes you can say it’s schmaltzy but actually in my experience it is spot-on. It is all too easy in this life to be a smug know-it-all critic, especially of the modern world, but Desiderata shows a more mature and intelligent way forward. The man or woman who can look at the shambles of human existence and perceive heroism, godness, compassion and truth is the real human being. The really beautiful thing about Desiderata is that in a few lines it provides a model for behaviour that can support a lifetimes’ endeavour to be a truly human being. I never cease to be amazed at the studendous humanity of these words and their potential as a role model for future generations. Its humble nobility is simply breathtaking.

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