Inspiration in Poetry
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”~ Carl Sagan
Hey Boomers, do you remember Desiderata?
Written in 1927 by Max Ehrman, the poem gained world recognition in the 1960s and 70s as a devotional and inspirational missive through printed works and spoken word recordings. I can still see the framed posters of Desiderata reproduced on parchment-coloured paper in a flowing script. I can hear the voice of Les Crane as he spoke the poem with singers softly murmuring in the background “you are child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.”
Even though, I cannot recite the poem word for word, I still remember the message that it imparts. It still touches my heart. Wouldn’t be wonderful if Desiderata made a comeback — it is exactly what the world needs to hear today!
Listen to a YouTube recording of Les Crane’s rendition of the spoken poem — it’s beautiful. Be prepared for a flood of memories!
Read the entire poem below. Note that Crane, in the last stanza of his recorded version, switched the word “cheerful” from Erhman’s original writing to “careful”.
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.
~ Max Ehrman