Happy Saturday and last day of February, 2015! I had to share this post again with this back story.
I had some business on my university campus last summer and as I stood in line, a young woman in front of me sported a tattoo with some of the words from this poem: “You are a child of the universe…” Both our jaws dropped when I asked her if this was from Desiderata, then finished the sentence, “…no less than the trees and the stars…” I was surprised I remembered it.
She must have picked up the poem from her parents, so much so that she dedicated those words onto her shoulder and upper arm. Truly a throwback to the seventies!
If you were around in the 1970s, this poem was so popular it became a song on the radio. If you were a hippie in the 1970s this was also on your 8-track.
Read this, it is as meaningful today as it was in the 70s, and as it was when it was originally written (1920s).
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 to the dull and 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’s 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.
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.
Strive to be happy.
Author – Max Ehrmann (1872 – 1945)
About this poem:
Desiderata was apparently written between 1906 & 1920 by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) who copyrighted the piece in 1927. The confusion about authorship of this poem is due to its distribution by Reverend Frederick Kates within a collection of works for his congregation in 1959. The church notepaper was headed “The Old St Paul’s Church, Baltimore, AD 1692”. As the poem became more widely circulated, it came to be assumed that the poem originated in this old church which was founded in 1692.