Desiderata

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 quitely and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story …

One of my absolute favorite poems, Desiderata (derived from the Latin, things to be desired) is also among the worlds most popular poems. It was written by American poet, Max Ehrmann (1872-1945), a scholar and poet, born in Terre Haute, Indiana. 

Gavin Aung Than is a cartoonist based in Melbourne, Australia. On his website, Zen Pencils, he has done an exceptional job illustrating Desiderata. It is worth a few seconds to read the full poem and scroll through his images, which artfully bring the words of this famous poem to life! 

Authorship History

Although composed in 1927, the poem was not rightfully credited to Ehrmann until 1965. Around 1959, the Rev. Frederick Kates, the rector of St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore, Maryland, used the poem in a collection of devotional materials he compiled for his congregation. At the top of the handout was the notation, “Old St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore A.C. 1692.” The church was founded in 1692. As the material was handed from one friend to another, the authorship became clouded.

Max Ehrmann graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana in 1894, and then studied law and philosophy at Harvard. After being a lawyer for several years, Ehrmann went to work in his family’s business. After 10 years in the business world, Ehrmann retired so he could devote all his time to writing. He once said in an interview, “At DePauw, I contracted a disease which I have never shaken off. The disease was Idealism. I took it to Harvard with me where I studied philosophy. Because of it I did the thing in life I wanted to do—writing.” 

Max Ehrmann wrote many poems, although none were well known until after his death (there is hope for my writing!). They have been collected into several books including the Desiderata of Happiness, and the Desiderata of FaithHis two most famous poems are Desiderata (1927) and A Prayer (1906). He died on September 9, 1945, leaving his widow, Bertha K. Ehrmann, who wrote his biography in 1951.

Artwork by Gavin

Artwork by Gavin Aung Than, a cartoonist based in Melbourne, Australia. Copyright by Gavin Than @ http://zenpencils.com/comic/desiderata/

Click here to read Desiderata in its’ entirety and scroll through Gavin Than’s images, which artfully bring the words of this famous poem to life! And check out his website, Zen Pencils, where you will find more illustrations of inspirational quotes. 

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