Desiderata, Latin for “desired things” is an extremely popular prose poem used during wedding celebrations as either a reading or final blessing. The American writer Max Ehrmann wrote the poem in 1927 (1872- 1945). The text became popular during the 1970’s and was largely unknown during the author’s lifetime.
The popular account of the poem, up until recently, had been that the poem had been found in a church with the date 1692. The more accurate rendering is that in 1956, the Reverend Frederick Kates, the Rector of Saint Paul’s Church in Baltimore, Maryland included Desiderata in a book of devotional readings he had collected for his congregation. The story goes that this book bears the church’s foundational date and is referenced as “Old Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore, 1692, A.D”. As a result of being included in this collection, the date of authorship of Desiderata was mistaken to be 1692.
By Max Ehrmann A Prose Poem
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 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 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 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.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical 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 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 [God] 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 careful. Strive to be happy.
© Max Ehrmann 1927
Charlie and Cheryl Cavalconte