I’m sure everybody’s getting a bit sick of all the food posts so today, I would like to share with you this poem by Max Ehrmann (in the 1920s) that has been some sort of a guiding light for me over the years.

In the early 70s, during the hippie or flower power era, it was available in the form of psychedelic posters that people would hang on the wall of their room or house…and if they switch on the ultra-violet light, the poster would glow in the dark.

Other than that, it was trendy then to learn the poem by heart and be able to quote lines from it when the opportunity arose.

An American DJ, Les Crane, made a recording of himself reciting the poem and it received a lot of air play on Radio Singapore at the time (1973). You can click the link to listen to it if you have never heard it before…but I’m sure you must have seen it on plaques or scrolls on sale at churches and religious article shops.

Anyway, if you have never seen it before, the poem goes like this:

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 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 to 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 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 labours 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.

Very wise and sound advice, don’t you think? Perhaps you would like your life to be prescribed by it too?

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

7 thoughts on “Desiderata…”

  1. yes, very wise in each words that been said. I don’t know why, but this poem remind me on ‘if’ by Rudyard Kipling. i love this kind of poem, i think this kind of wisdom words deserve more than just the word ‘poem’, its like a will.

    Yes, in one of the English workbooks that I wrote, I had a compare-contrast activity between Desiderata and If…but it was too challenging for the students, so I had it removed in later revisions of the workbook.

  2. yes.. wise words.. 🙂 hi STP! Long time no see. Wish me luck for my exams on Monday, please. hehehhee

    Wishing you lots and lots of luck in your exams! Thought you already graduated and are working liao?…Humph! Long time no see indeed! LOL!!!

  3. “If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

    I love this one. Very inspiring 🙂

    Yes, it is! I always advise my daughter and my students that – compare with yourself and as far as possible, try to do better the next time…but not with others. And be happy when you have done your best, no matter what the outcome may be.

  4. “The Desiderata of Happiness”by Max Ehrmann is the philosophical guide to daily living for many. Indeed, it starts with “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste …” and ends with an optimistic “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

    A good friend who is a poet took that as his guide for happy living. He “taught” me that –

    “Desiderata” means “features or characteristics deemed as essential or desirable to…”; hence one may say the desiderata of happiness may consist of, among others, good health, a balanced education, a professional job, lots of money to spare after the essentials for daily living, or even a carefree vagabond lifestyle … to each his/her own!

    And I want to add – God must be the centre of our life in happy living!

    Yes, “Desiderata” literally means “That to be desired”…but I’m afraid I fail to see the things you have listed in the poem. As for the part about God, I think it means that we must seek absolution for our sins and steer clear of them always…so we will not be bogged down by the guilt and can have peace of heart, mind and soul…and thus, be happy.

  5. When I was 17 I probably would not understand this poem at all! But when I read it today, everyline is just so true n meaningful. I believe all of us here are meant to be used as vessels by our Creator,whether constructive or destructive ones,is a choice one have to make. I have to say that Psalm of David,Chapter 23 have been my inspiration thru the years n it has helped me a lot thru trying times!

    Psalm 23? The one they read at funerals?…..Yes, every line in Desiderata is so true, that I agree!

  6. This is one of my favourite poems as well. When I need an encouraging nudge, the poem speaks volumes to me.

    Hello! Long time no see, professor! Back home for X’mas? Yes, really good advice to follow!

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

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