Desiderata: Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

Last updated on Sep 22, 2019

Posted on Mar 6, 2009

Desiderata is a beautiful poem. The author is Max Ehrmann.  Derideratum means something that is needed or wanted.

Ehrmann wrote this poem in 1920 and copyrighted it in 1927.  But since he distributed Desiderata without a copyright notice in 1933 and 1942, he forfeited his US copyright.

After his death in 1945, his widow distributed it as part of the book titled The Poems of Max Ehrmann.

It has been used by many to uplift themselves and also to shape their lives.  Morgan Freeman once admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that Desiderata had deeply shaped his life!  Also, Canada’s current Prime Minister’s father Pierre Trudeau had quoted this poem after his loss in the 1972 Federal general election.

Listen to this beautiful rendition of the poem. Worth a listen. You can read the poem in full below that.

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 the 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

Conclusion

Sometimes words written from the inner core can resonate with so many across so many decades and centuries.  Desiderata was one such set of words put together in a beautiful poem,  Its power, subtle yet strong, has been felt, acknowledged and used by many.  That is why Desiderata lives on.

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