Max Ehrmann’s ‘Desiderata’

About the poem:    Desiderata (Latin: desired things), a prose poem written by American author Max Ehrmann in 1927.  Copies in poster form started to circulate in the mid-60s.  In 1967, the prose went mainstream as recited by artist Leonard Nimoy, calling it “Spock Thoughts”.  –

What it means to me:  This poem is a gem! A theater director handed me a copy of Desiderata twenty years ago; she even asked me to memorize it.  The poem turned out to be ‘a gift’.  A couple of months ago, for the first time in N years, I had to dig it out of a virtual treasure chest —  while I was ‘soul-searching’…for there are moments that warrant the need to read something in order for us to cope – for us to be reminded of things which we already know…  I find it difficult at this moment to paint a vivid picture of how it was to go on a soul-searching mode nearing mid-life. Whew! Over it! =)


Marie Antoinette’s Estate – Versailles, France
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Go placidly amidst 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. 

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 starts; you have the 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 labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. 

With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. 

Be cheerful.  Strive to be happy.

Blooms – Riksjmuseum, Amsterdam
Photo by: C. Dirampaten