Thursday, December 31, 2015

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

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 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 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 critical 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 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 careful. Strive to be happy.

Some thoughts…

On the Poet: Max Ehrmann (1872 – 1945) was an American writer and poet who is now chiefly remembered for this poem which attained posthumous fame.

On this poem: Desiderata is a Latin term meaning ‘things desired’. Copyrighted in 1927, the poem is sometimes confused for being a much older work. That myth began to circulate after the Reverend Frederick Kates (rector of St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore) included this poem in his anthology of uplifting works for his congregation with the title ‘The Old St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore, AD 1692’; 1692 being the year the church was founded.

Perhaps it’s easy to attribute this to an earlier age not just because it has a Latin title, but because its message is simple, universal, timeless.

Of  a personal nature: In 1942, the poet gave permission to an army psychiatrist to distribute this poem to soldiers. There would have been no science on PTSD then, but I’m sure it brought comfort to many. It’s one that gives me great solace; something that I come back to repeatedly.

Wishing my readers a very happy 2016, and ‘may the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past’. Love, Peace, Health, and Happiness to all of you.

No comments: