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 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 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, 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.

 

Max Erhman
This poem has been wrongly attributed in the past to an unknown author who left it in a church in Baltimore, MD. The poem was not found in St. Paul's at Baltimore in 1692, but written by Max Ehrman (1872-1945, a Harvard philosopher and lawyer) in 1927 and published in 1948 after his death by his widow in "the poems of Max Ehrman". The church in Baltimore was founded in 1692, and the Reverend Kates used this poem on the church paper somewhere between 1956 and 1961. On the paper, the Baltimore logo was used together with "founded in 1692" (the parish that is). Somebody mixed this up and changed "founded" to "found", thus changing the date of the poem by some 200 years.

My thanks to R. J. de Vries for bringing this to my attention. Additional information on the confused history of this poem, including the changing of certain words, can be found at: http://www.fleurdelis.com/desidera.htm