/ Letters / ‘Desiderata’

‘Desiderata’

April 19, 2020

To the Editor:

For decades I have had a plaque of “Desiderata” hanging in my home. The poem was found in St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore in 1692 although Max Ehrmann has been attributed to its uncopyrighted authorship in 1927. Regardless of its origin, it is apropos for readers of any denomination or faith. I read it often and try to shape my life according to those words. During this time of fear and despair I ask that you share this with your readers, perhaps in a format which could be saved or framed. “Keep calm and carry on.” 


“Desiderata — Words for Life”

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.


— Max Ehrmann, 1927


Hannah Dana

Arbor Vitae


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