COMMENTARY 978.2: Desiderata

In 1927, Max Ehrmann gave us timeless advice in a poem called Desiderata (Latin for “things desired”):

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 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 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.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 4

  1. Michael, this has been a favorite of mine for many decades. We use it with our students in the High School Leadership and Ethics Conferences. During my time at their age (60’s), all of us had read Max’s meaningful poem. Today, it is rare to find a student who knew of it. Thanks for sharing it. Warm regards, Patrick

  2. Michael,
    Thank you so much for posting “Desiderata”
    The counsel of years is reflected in this literary piece , reminding us the importance of christian values.
    One the best piece , one must be reminded of .
    Life teaches us to use time wisely and as well fruitful.
    Then to sum up i would like say or punch in my lines of thoughts to ponder over :
    “Life is a collection of reflection ”
    ” Leaving behind shadows of reputation”

  3. Thank you Michael, I have been enlightened by this poem, it still strike me now that Im 65, the way it did 50 years back. I am soooooo happy I found and read this poem again to share it with my LOVE ONES, THE NEW GENERATION, AND THE NOT SO NEW.

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