No other poem in the world compares to this one, and millions of people around the world agree.
When I was growing up in New York, I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a writer. I went to specific schools for writing, and learned more about the English language than I thought possible.
Now, writing schools are great and they spend a little time on the world of poetry, but they don’t give it the credit it deserves. Or at least mine didn’t.
I was obsessed with poetry. The famous authors like Poe and Frost spoke to me in a way that others couldn’t get close to. “Incomparable” is the only word to describe poetry.
It can move you. Bring you to tears, or inspire you to finally live. Make the world seem safe, and like a completely different place. Poetry can be felt within your soul. It burns a warming fire that lingers for hours–even years if the words are powerful enough to you.
Let’s talk about Desiderata, the poem by Max Ehrmann.
Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) was a scholar and poet, born in Terre Haute, Indiana on September 16, 1872. He studied law and philosophy at Harvard University, then became a lawyer for several years.
The life didn’t suit him, and he ended up working in the family business for ten years after that before following his dream of writing.
During his life, Max Ehrmann contributed great thoughts to our literary lexicons, blending the magic of words and wisdom with his worthy observations. His deep and abiding concern over social issues are reflected throughout his many works. His philosophical writings are a search for social truth and peace—messages that never age.
Max Ehrmann wrote many poems, although none were well known until after his death. The most famous of them being Desiderata.
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.
-Mah Ehrmann 1927