No. 962




A few years ago my good friend Cliff Garrison invited me to attend a weekly prayer breakfast at his church. It took a while to get me there, but I have been going ever since. This prayer breakfast meets each Wednesday morning and Cliff calls it a good “Mid-Week Picker-Upper.” It is all of that and more. This is what I thought of when another friend sent me a great poem that was written back in 1927 and did not become widely popular until long after the author’s death. The author is American writer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) and the poem titled “Desiderata” is now in the public domain.
In addition to the poem, I felt you might like to have a little background information. In 1956, the Rev. Frederick Kates, rector of St Paul’s Church in Baltimore, Md., included “Desiderata” in a compilation of devotional materials for his congregation. Later, when U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Adlai Stevenson died in 1965, a guest in his home found “Desiderata” near his bedside and discovered that Stevenson had planned to use it in his Christmas cards. This contributed further to the poem becoming widely known. On Aug. 26, 2010, a bronze statue of Ehrmann sitting on a park bench was unveiled in Terre Haute, Ind., his hometown, with the sculpture done by Bill Wolfe.
This poem is so good and it lifts my spirits each time I read it. It could become a regular part of my mental diet. Hope it blesses you and, by keeping this column, you will have it to read as often as you care to. It begins:
“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. 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.”
As I said earlier, hope this wonderful poem blessed you today, and will each time you read it. Sometimes our life does get to going so fast that it is hard to slow down and see the real beauty that is all around us. Thanks for taking time each week to read my column.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)