Tuesday, December 2, 2008


When I was in elementary, I was made (along with the rest of my class) to memorize this poem for a year-end recital. I liked the poem back then. I liked the cadence, the free-flowing form and uncomplicated words. I also liked its message. I thought I understood it then. And I think I did to a certain extent. But now, around 6 months shy of my 30th birthday, I think I truly understand what each and every line and verse is saying. I love this poem. I want to teach it to my kids someday.


-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --
Not "Found in Old St. Paul's Church"! -- see below

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 with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to 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 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.


yanka said...

Yes - it sounds so different now that I'm older. It's not just words.

Mai da Paypay said...

OMG vicki, this is my guiding principle in life. I love Desiderata, my dad introduced this to me when I was 7. And I always recite this in my head whenever I am lost in life. Well, this and a prayer to God :-)

dreamwalker said...

My aunt gave me a diary with Desiderata printed in the front page when I was in 5th grade. Yeah, it used to be "just" words way back then. Now, it takes on a whole new meaning, no?

vicki said...

Things we realize as we get older...hehe.