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Desiderata: Go Placidly Amidst The Noise

Updated on August 23, 2017

Desiderata: Go Placidly Amidst The Noise And Haste

Many of us recognise the opening of Desiderata immediately, many of us pause a moment and think, then realise we know them from somewhere. We think what a sonorous line it is. It's almost hippyish but it isn't. It's, well it's just right, somehow.

I've heard followers of Buddha say Max Ehrmann's Desiderata encapsulates their religion, Christians saying the same. Other major religions can accept it without violating their own codes. I doubt if anyone could mention another work like it that appeals to so many. I'm an agnostic but I've admired the words for many years. I dislike being preached at but I think it expresses the way I'd like to live my life. I might not always manage it but Desiderata always reminds me gently that I'm straying from myself..

Desiderata In Full: Max Ehrmann's Classic

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 vexations 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 not this 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

desiderata t-shirt zazzle
desiderata t-shirt zazzle

Desiderata: Relevant Today?

Good insight and wisdom don't really go out of fashion and can usually be applied to situations occurring here and now. Check out the pic on this module: that wouldn't be happening if there wasn't current demand!

"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 vexations to the spirit. "

From the noisy so-and-so next to you on the rush-hour train to the annoying poster on forums, what better advice could you have? The lonely old woman on the bus, the Big Issue seller, don't ignore them - speak to them, they're people. And you'll be amazed what you hear sometimes.

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.

Difficult, this one, unless you win the lottery, And even then you'll find out that a few million isn't that much, not when the most expensive aprtment in London is £143 million ... Small house - I'm comfortable. Prints on the walls - would the originals be better? A CD's the same whether you're rich or poor, so's a book to read.

But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Don't cross your bridges before you come to them. Don't make decisions if you're in the wrong frame of mind.

Pick any line from Desiderata and see how many ways there are of restating it. See how many proverbs and sayings echo it. See what situations you can think of where it's relevant.

And see how it fits in with your religion, code of ethics or other value system.

What Do You Think?

Relevant today?

Desiderata poster  zazzle
Desiderata poster zazzle

Max Ehrmann: Author Of Desiderata

Max Ehrmann was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1872. He studied law and philosophy at Harvard and returned home to practise law. In his life he wrote many poems though none achieved fame until after his death.

He was assistant DA in Terre Haute, then went into the family business (meat-packing), went into an overalls business and retired at age 40 to write poetry, He died in 1945.

Desiderata ("things that are yearned for") was written in 1927. Ehrmann included it in a Christmas message to friends in 1933 and gave a copy to a local church, US Army psychiatrist Merill Moore wrote in 1942 to Ehrmann that he used the Desiderata poem in his therapy work with wounded and mentally-disturbed soldiers. Moore later wrote to Ehrmann suggesting that the poem should be bottled and sold as 'Dr Ehrmann's Magic Soul Medicine'.

desiderata les crane warner brothers
desiderata les crane warner brothers

Unlikely Pop Charter

In 1971/1972 Les Crane (see wiki info) had a chart hit with Desiderata -- much to his and everyone else's surprise.

Since then it has been recorded in everything from Spanish to Greek and sold in the millions.

Desiderata On Amazon

Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life
Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

Pleasant booklet of 48 pages with black and white line drawings

Western Cowboy DESIDERATA Poster Print Poem 8.5x11
Western Cowboy DESIDERATA Poster Print Poem 8.5x11

8.5" x 11" poster of Desiderata, suitable for many decorating schemes.


Photo Credits

Main illustrations used are from the Zazzle shop Digital Dreams, used with permission.

What Do You Think Of Desiderata? - Other works you draw inspiration from?

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    • asereht1970 profile image


      5 years ago from Philippines

      I just love this poem since I was in high school.

    • EpicEra profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for putting a name and works to this famous quote

    • Paul Ward profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      @Pat Goltz: Sounds like a fascinating idea!

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 

      6 years ago

      This leaves me with the desire to write about what comes after Desiderata.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have loved since I first became aware of it. There is so much truth and wisdom in it.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 

      7 years ago from Jersey Shore

      First read this years ago and it struck a chord - "remember what peace there may be in silence" - something to live by.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I first heard this read on the radio about 30 years ago, I think it was a recording by Earl Nightingale and that voice just gave it such power. I found the written version and hand scripted it in calligraphy for my Journal. It is timeless, and wonder-filled with wisdom.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Didn't Tele Savalas (Kojak) also have a hit with this in the 1970s? Nicely done, blessed.

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 

      7 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      This is a lovely introduction to Desiderata and the message behind it.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      8 years ago from Canada

      I think that at this time of year the message of Desiderata is all the more clear. The very best of seasons blessings to you and yours.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      It is good to be reminded.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      The Desiderata is powerful, and comforting. Like so many others, I used to have it framed on my wall as well.

    • nolinel lm profile image

      nolinel lm 

      8 years ago

      Beautiful lens...

    • hysongdesigns profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, retired at the age of 40, how cool is that? I love this poem, thanks!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Great idea for a lens. I used to love the Telly Savalas version that was always on the radio in the early 70's.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I first read Desiderata over 35 years ago, and it resonated with me immediately, and I always had a copy in my journals or scrapbooks as illustrated writing. Beautiful and illuminating to contemplate.

      Big thumbs up from me for your work on this lens.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      8 years ago from Colorado

      I've always loved the Desiderata. It has more than the usual meaning for me because of the family that gave it to me as a gift. For many years I had that handmade version of the Desiderata up on my walls in my college dorm and then my office at work. Thank you for spotlighting it in this lens. Nicely done!

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      8 years ago

      Awesome- Cupid Kisses -:) Happy Valentine's Day!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have enjoyed Desiderata's inspiration and timelessness. Blessed!

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Desiderata was very popular in the 1960s. Thanks for paying it tribute with this lens.

    • I-sparkle profile image


      8 years ago

      I read it for the first time approximately 30 years ago. I had never really forgotten it. Thank you for reminding me of what I consider a great spirit enlightening piece. Great lens. But you already knew that.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I think Desiderata is a great piece of work to get inspiration and encouragement from. Blessings! :)

    • profile image

      the777group lm 

      8 years ago

      Desiderata is a timeless piece of work - as powerful, in its own way, as Gibran's The Prophet.

      As a fan, you may care to compare it to Annette Peacock's Adios A La Pasada, from Yes / King Crimson drummer, Bill Bruford's first solo album, Feels Good To Me. I consider it a female bohemian equivalent.

    • fbaum818 profile image


      8 years ago

      I definitely agree with Charle--great lens. Haven't been much into Desiderata, but this lens captures it pretty well.

    • charle lm profile image

      charle lm 

      8 years ago

      Wonderful lens, I think Max Ehrmann's Desiderata is an iconic timeless piece, it's nice of you to build a lens about it, looking forward more lenses of same quality, keep it up.


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