DESIDERATA By Max Ehrmann, 1927

I was listening to music on the radio when the ‘Desiderata’ album came on. Desiderata is a spoken word album (1971) by Les Crane with certain parts sung and accompanied by instruments. At the time the album was released, the prose/poem Desiderata was already widely popular in the 1960s and 1970s and considered ancient wisdom. You probably heard portions of Desiderata or at least the first sentence of the poem, which goes like this…”Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”

BUT, the original poem Desiderata was written by Indiana lawyer and poet Max Ehrmann in 1927, and it is believed Ehrmann wrote it for himself, “because it counsels those virtues I felt most in need of.” The word desiderata in Latin means “things that are desired.” Although Ehrmann copyrighted the poem in 1927, distributed copies during 1933 and 1942 did not comply with the required copyright which subsequently caused him to forfeit his copyright. Les Crane popularized  Desiderata in his spoken word album in 1972.

Here is the original text of Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1927). Not all the verses will resonate with you, but that’s the beauty of any art form…you take the portion you need or makes an impression on you and leave the rest. Enjoy!



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.

By Max Ehrmann © 1927


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