Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the 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 to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious 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 in your soul.
With all its sham,
drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, 1927

A Little History of Desiderata

Desiderata, a poem full of wisdom for life, was composed by Max Ehrmann around 1927. Born in 1872 in Terre Haute, Indiana, to German immigrants, he wrote many poems, although none became well known until after his death. Apart from Desiderata, his most famous poem is A Prayer, written in 1906.

Ehrmann included Desiderata in a Christmas message to his friends in 1933.

US Army psychiatrist Merill Moore wrote in 1942 to Ehrmann that he used the poem in his therapy work, and in 1944 suggested that the poem should be bottled and sold as ‘Dr Ehrmann’s Magic Soul Medicine’.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry kept a copy of Desiderata in his office.

During the late 1900s, the Desiderata verse was a big-selling poster produced by the Athena company. Inspired by this or a similar poster and believing the words to be in the public domain, singer Les Crane used the Desiderata words in his 1971 hit pop record. As a result, he received a Grammy award for the ‘best spoken word recording’. (The story goes that since the poem was not in the public domain, he had to share his royalties with the then Desiderata copyright owners.)