Go Placidly . . .

lakeOn the radio today there was a discussion on memorization. People called in to discuss the poems they were assigned to memorize as kids. I believe the overall consensus of the show was that when you are young, memorizing seems like a waste of time and when you are older, you wish that you knew more poems by heart.

While I was in school, I can only remember one thing I was required to memorize and it was during my senior year of high school. At the time, I thought it was a dumb assignment … but, I did it. I still remember most of the poem today and the words hold much more meaning for me now then they did in my youth. I hope that memorizing poems is not a dying trend … I agree with the radio callers … now, I wish I knew more.

The poem was Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. (Desiderata is Latin for “things to be desired” The poem is about attaining happiness in life.


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 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 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.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

(video at youtube)

~ by bearyweather on September 6, 2009.

2 Responses to “Go Placidly . . .”

  1. Excellent…thanks, for bringing it to my attention. It is definitely one I’d like to remember. I wish I had been assigned it in hs, but then again I probably would not have appreciated it as I do now. It is certainly a gem.

  2. I think I first read this when I was a teenager and used to keep a framed copy on my wall. I wish I knew what I had done with it.

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