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Lots of "Desired Things" still "Unconquered" in the "Sand"

Updated on October 15, 2009

Are we satisfied with the things we have?

Have you ever said to yourself that you're satisfied with all the things you possess in life? Did you ever think of helping others after you attained all the riches and comfort in this world we live in?

Questions like these always inculcate in my mind. Am I really satisfied with what I have? Am I ready to help others without asking in return?

Cleansing my thoughts and refining my moves are my first steps in attaining these goals. I'll admit that I'm always thinking first of myself and I'm finding it hard to share what I have to others, if not a member of my family.

Before, my world is just concentrated around my family and a few friends. Now that I have found these two inspirations, again, I am rekindling my motto: The Golden Rule (Do not do unto others things you don't want others do it unto you.)

Desiderata ("desired things") and Invictus ("unconquered") are two of my mantras in life. These two latin words were introduced to me during my high school years. I didn't know the authors of the two poems. Yet the sounds of wordplay and the titles catched my imagination of being a good person yet independent from all the dictates of this world.

My elder sister gave me a gift of Desiderata during one of my teen birthdays but Invictus is so short a poem that's why I easily memorized it and recited infront of the Literature class during my sophomore year in high school.

I felt guilty because I usually forget the writers of these two poems. So, with the help of Wikipedia, You Tube, and Poet Seers sites, I am now ready to share with you these two posthumous persons I started admiring two decades ago of my life.

Let me share with you their stories...

Max Ehrmann (1872 – 1945), a poet and lawyer from Terre Haute, Indiana, is its author. It has been reported that Desiderata was inspired by an urge that Ehrmann wrote about in his diary: "I should like, if I could, to leave a humble gift -- a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods." Conventional belief is that Ehrmann actually wrote the prose himself and copyrighted it in 1927.

"Desiderata" (Latin for "desired things", plural of desideratum) is an inspirational prose poem by Max Ehrmann about attaining happiness in life. It begins: Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. Ehrmann first copyrighted it in 1927, but it was widely circulated in the 1960s without attribution to him. This copyright was renewed in 1954 by Bertha Ehrmann.

"Invictus" is a short poem by the British poet William Ernest Henley. The title is Latin for "unconquered". It was first published in 1875.

At the age of 12, William Ernest Henley became a victim of tuberculosis of the bone. In spite of this, in 1867 he successfully passed the Oxford local examination as a senior student. His diseased foot had to be amputated directly below the knee; physicians had announced that the only way to save his life was to amputate. Henley persevered and survived with one foot intact. He was discharged in 1875, and was able to lead an active life for nearly 30 years despite his disability. With an artificial foot, he lived until the age of 53. "Invictus" was written from a hospital bed despite Henley's condition.

Lectures about life are always conducted to us in our affiliated churches through verses from the Holy Bible, symposia, fellowship and the like. But oftentimes we forget easily things we practice inside our churches.

What do we crave these days? Endless information on how to get rich are dotted on every pages of the sites we are browsing or hooked into.

We are forgetting that tangible riches in this world are not the true riches that will cleanse our being when  our time comes.

These two poems really help me to be humble at all time and keep my toes on the ground. Let's recite it by heart...


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 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 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.

(c) Max Ehrman 1926


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow'd.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

(c) William Ernest Henley

The freshness of their thoughts really linger in my mind. I am sure that from their era and up to our popular culture, quotations were made by people in all the strata of society because they are inspired by these poems. Many films were made featuring these two literary works.

If I started to feel that I'm suffocated by the ills of society, I'll just say to myself repeatedly: "I am master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."

I also sing, "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have the right to be here."

Without being melodramatic, I am confident that I am walking on the right path and will hurdle any obstacle that will come my way.



Mary Stevenson-Zangare had written many poems that continue to touch our hearts especially "Footprints in the Sand".
Mary Stevenson-Zangare had written many poems that continue to touch our hearts especially "Footprints in the Sand".


I'm so pre-occupied by the first two poems that I nearly forgot this poem by an anonymous writer. It is based from the stories in the Holy Bible and the actual scenario of Great Depression in America. It was seen printed starting in 1940s and made into a narrative song four decades later. Mary Stevenson rediscovered her original manuscript (when she wrote it in her early teens) in 1984 and was awarded its copyright and has a website of its title.

I am so self-centered that whenever I noticed that there is only one set of footprints in the sand, I realised that the Lord is the one carrying my burden

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?

”The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.”

-Mary Stevenson)

Note: These three poems became famous through our churches, inspirational cards, paintings and other memorabilia that are available in the stores. Unfortunately, Footprints in the Sand had so many versions that every author claims to own its copyright. It's really a long, sad story for the true author of the poem (Mary Stevenson-Zangare who died in 1999). Maybe through this hub, we can also help clarify or enlighten those with heavy hearts and give credit to whom it is due.

Personally, I've written simple poems about everything around me. What if somebody close to me copyrighted it and claim that he/she is the author of those literary pieces?

Really, all my desired things are still unconquered in the sand.


Footprints in the Sand


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    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      9 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Hello, creativeone59. Thank you for enjoying it, too. My sister used to buy printed copies of Footprints in the Sand and Desiderata. She used it as inspiration during her school days (in high school & coolege). I was influenced, too. Invictus is my personal armor,aside from God, when challenges come to me.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you so much for these poems, I remember the footprints in the sand and the Invictus,but not the other one, but i enjoyed it too. Thank you, I'm so glad you shared them with me. creativeone59


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