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Desiderata

DESIDERATA
                                by Max Ehrmann

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 will all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

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.

I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I do. I first received a handwritten copy of Desiderata (Latin for "things to be desired") in 1970, and have had a copy of it in my work space for many years. It was noted on my copy that the poem, dated 1692, and written by an unknown author, had been discovered in Old St. Paul's Church, Baltimore.

When I decided to put it up on my blog, I did a Google search of the poem to make sure that I had a correct copy. It was then I discovered that, although some reference books still claim Desiderata is thought to have been 'found' in Old St. Paul's Church in Baltimore, Maryland, Max Ehrmann (1872-1945), a poet and lawyer from Terre Haute, Indiana, had apparently written the poem. Mr. Ehrmann copyrighted the poem in 1927, and, in 1954, his widow, Bertha K. Ehrmann, renewed the copyright. At her death in 1962, Max's widow bequeathed the copyright to her nephew, Richmond Wight, who subsequently assigned it to Robert L. Bell (dba Crescendo Publishing Company) in 1971, for an undisclosed fee. Unfortunately for Mr. Bell, a federal district court ruled on July 16, 1975, that Mr. Ehrmann had forfeited his right to have the copyright protected and the poem was now in the public domain. In a ruling on May 14, 1976, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision. Later that year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the 7th Circuit Court's ruling. You can read more about the history of Desiderata here.

Posted by Rick | April 27, 2005 05:58 AM

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