Desiderata is among my all-time favorite poems.  In Latin the word means desired things.

I’ve never been much “into” poetry, at least not since One is the loneliest number back in 1970 in a high school English class.  The only reason I remember it at all is because of the cute girl reading it aloud in class.  It’s all a little too ethereal for me.  (Poetry, not the girl!)  I’m more a steak and potatoes kind of a guy.

There’s some interesting history surrounding the origins of the poem and it’s copyright.  American Lawyer Max Ehrman wrote it way back in 1927.  It was largely unknown during his lifetime.  Then Les Crane’s spoken-word, Billboard hit version of it came out in 1971 and brought world-wide acclaim.  It won a Grammy for the former television talk-show host and was among one of the most inspirational poems of our modern-day.  I’ve liked it ever since.

You’ve probably seen it among the innumerable plaques and framed versions printed over the years.  I’m sure Max Ehrman’s estate has done well from it.  Whether read as a whole or taken in small bites it leaves a powerful message.  Words of advice worthy of review.  At least that’s how I see it.  So, what do you think?  What’s your favorite line(s)?  Right now, mine are lines 7 & 8.

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 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 with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrman

What do you think? Comments? Questions? Observations?

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