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I recently had occasion to painfully recall the line, “Especially, do not feign affection”, from the well-known poem Desiderata, which was very popular in the late 1960s and which achieved even more popularity when the talk-show host, Les Crane, recorded it in 1971. I couldn’t find a video of it that I liked enough to post, so if you would like to listen to Les Crane’s recording of it, follow the link. When I was in college in the late 1960s, the origins of the poem, allegedly written in 1692, puzzled everyone. Thank goodness for the Internet! It was written by Max Ehrmann in 1927.

Update 12/05/2010: Reader Joe submitted the following link for a very nice video of Desiderata. Thanks, Joe!


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.
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 with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be careful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

4 Comments on “Desiderata”

  1. #1 june
    on Feb 10th, 2010 at 12:26 am

    I’ve had this hanging on my wall for years…since high school…now that’s a long time 🙂 Great words to live by.

  2. #2 Beth
    on Feb 10th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Thanks for posting this, Jeff. I’ve always loved this poem. I’ve just printed it out to put up next to my computer so I can read it often. Such wise words…

  3. #3 Kay
    on Feb 15th, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I very much enjoyed listening to the Les Cohen recording – thanks for the link. Certainly an uplifting and centering affirmation to be listened to when the grit of daily life clouds our thoughts.

  4. #4 Joe
    on Dec 5th, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Here is a very nice video. Scroll down the page and wait for it to load.

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