'Desiderata' Poetry

Max Ehrmann’s most acclaimed work which Osho declared “…seems to be one of the most ancient documents available today.”

Zen Moon by Deva Padma

Hear then the wisdom of the wise:
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 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 council 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 borne 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

Max Ehrmann (26 September 1872 – 9 September 1945) was an American writer, poet, and attorney, born in Terre Haute, Indiana, to an emigrant family from Bavaria, Germany.

Ehrmann received his early education from the Terre Haute Fourth District School and the German Methodist Church. Upon graduation, Ehrmann studied law and philosophy at Harvard and edited The Rainbow,  a national college fraternity magazine. It was at Harvard, that he published his first book, A Farrago, in 1898.

He practiced law as Deputy State’s Attorney for two years and then worked for a number of years as credit manager and attorney for his brother’s manufacturing business.

At the age of 40, Ehrmann left the family business and returned to writing full-time. Throughout his career, he wrote more than 20 books and pamphlets and many essays and poems that were published separately in newspapers and magazines. His most acclaimed work was Desiderata, originally published in 1927. Desiderata has been published in numerous magazines, newspapers, and anthologies and was produced as a single record by Warner Brothers in 1971.

Featured image: Zen Moon by Deva Padma

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