Desiderata

Go placidly amongst the noise and haste...

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 vexatious to the spirit.

and remember what peace there may be in silence...

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 years...

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.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be...

Max Ehrmann (1872-1945)

This beautiful prose poem, Desiderata, meaning “things desired”in Latin was wrtten by American writer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945). Virtually unknown in the author’s lifetime, it was used by a priest of St Paul’s Church , Baltimore, Maryland in a selection of devotional material for his congregation. The handout had at the top of its front page the inscription:

Old Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore A.D. 1692.”

Presumably, this meant that the antiquity of the church was 1692.

Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965)

Years later,  when Adlai Stevenson, an American politician, much respected for his intellect, eloquent public speaking, and promotion of liberal causes, died in 1965, this pamphlet was found by his bedside. It surmised that Stevenson planned to use the poem for his Christmas cards. The poem was circulated widely under the mistaken notion that it was an inscription dating back to 1692 which was found in St Paul’s church. The poem attained great popularity especially after Les Crane, an American radio announcer and talk-show host made a spoken word recording of it. This proved a great hit and the poem gained in fame and public recognition.

Kamahl (b. 1934 - to date)

Almost thirty years ago in my late uncle’s house when cassette recorders were the craze, I loved to listen to the deep baritone voice of an Australian singer of Tamil ethnic origin named Kamahl. Amongst his many songs were two of my favourites – the Elephant song and a recital of this poem – Desiderata.

Desiderata is not just a lovely poem of great human sentiment, it has been considered to represent a philosophy of life by Osho, Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh himself. As a teenager I remember being handed a pamphlet once by an Osho disciple in which he compared the great religions of the world with the Bahá’í Faith and Desiderata, both of which I had not known about before then.

IMAGE CREDITS: Click image to reach source.

  • Crowd – Vincent & Bella Productions, Creative Commons 2.0 on Wikimedia Commons.
  • Mushrooms – J.J. Harrison, Creative Commons 3.0 on Wikimedia Commons
  • Max Ehrmann – Fair use, on Wikipedia.
  • Kamahl -Sound and Vision Wiki – Gallery: Lavish with music Creative Commons 3.0 on Wikimedia Commons.
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5 Comments on “Desiderata”

  1. troy Says:

    I hadn’t read that before …thank you 🙂


  2. Great stuff, Ashwin. Nice way to start the day. Many thanks.

  3. Dibyendu Bhattacharjee Says:

    I was introduced to the DESIDERATA by one of my bosses way back in 1996.Now I know the history behind it. Thanks Ashwin.

    And yes, happy blogging.u r going great guns.


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