The Desiderata

Max Ehrmann

It’s become a little cliché–it’s hard to bounce back from being printed on a million tea towels–but The Desiderata is full of beauty and wisdom.

The poem is often alleged to have been found in a Baltimore church in 1692 and to be of unknown origin. Not so, it was written around 1920 by lawyer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) of Terre Haute, Indiana. The myth started when the Reverend Frederick Kates reproduced the poem in a collection of inspirational works in 1959. He used church notepaper, headed: “The Old St Paul’s Church, Baltimore, AD 1692″ (the year the church was founded).

You don’t need to be an Einstein to figure out the rest.

Whatever the history of The Desiderata, Max Ehrmann’s poem offers a positive credo for life. It’s been sneered at by the literati and no doubt been published on a thousand blogs, but here it is once more just because I like it:

The Desiderata Continue reading

If you can meet with cliché and disaster

Rudyard Kipling

It’s been eulogized, anthologized, criticized and idolized. It’s suffered the indignity of being printed on tea towels. Various literary luminaries have sneered that it’s verse, not poetry, nevertheless it’s been popular for over a century with ordinary mortals and I like it.

It may be a little cliché and it’s certainly sexist but—like the equally over-the-top Desiderata—it’s full of wisdom and very good advice.

If–

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: Continue reading