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home : news & opinion : news & opinion August 20, 2017

12/30/2013 1:40:00 PM
Desiderata
... it is still a beautiful world.
... it is still a beautiful world.
You may be familiar with the famous poem 'Desiderata' written in 1927. Largely unknown during the author's life, the poem entered popular culture in the late sixties and early seventies by way of reprints and recordings. It was also reproduced on thousands of wall posters during that era, which is how I was introduced to it.

'Desiderata' was written by a hoosier. Max Ehrmann was born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1872 to German immigrant parents. He was a graduate of DePauw University and later studied law and philosophy at Harvard. He returned to Terre Haute to practice law. Later in life, when Ehrmann began writing full time, it is said he devoted every day to his work.

At the start of each new year I review the poem before pondering my New Year's Resolutions (a task that I try to complete by the end of March). The poem follows if you, too, are seeking inspiration.

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 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 council 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 borne 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.

Desiderata (1927)

by Max Ehrmann, writer and poet

Terre Haute, Indiana







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