Sunday, September 5, 2010

Things to be desired

I’ve been spending the weekend at home with my parents, and rummaging through my old clothes and journals. This morning, I came across an old journal from college and found this poem (below) glued inside the front cover. I hope you like it as much as I did both today and 10 years ago:


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 to 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 perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to 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 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.

~Max Ehrmann c.1920


  1. A very graceful and beautiful expression "Things to be Desired", imagining him penning this with a quill in rural Indiana, in a quieter time:
    Interesting feeling the vibration of this with the Ghita
    similar qualities,, both food for our 'soul'... n.

  2. Thanks, John! I loved reading that link with some of the history behind the poem!

  3. I remember this vividly from the 60’s. Many of us had it posted on our college dorm rooms. This line from the link helps confirm my memories:

    The poem was popular prose for the "make peace, not war" movement of the 1960s.

  4. ohh wow, just today a friend mentioned this poem... and now I read it on your blog. such coincident... thanks