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There are two things I want to quote on this website, the first is Desiderata written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945).  It's source is a matter of great debate, so for those interested, I included some discussion of where this work originated.  The second . . . well, I have no idea where the second piece originated, but it's last three lines serve as an ever important reminder about life and dance.

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D E S I D E R A T A

        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 & clearly;
        and listen to others,
        even the dull & ignorant;
        they too have their story.

        Avoid loud & aggressive persons,
        they are vexations to the spirit.
        If you compare yourself with others,
        you may become vain & 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 future 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 & disenchantment
        it is 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 imaginings.
        Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness.
        Beyond wholesome discipline,
        be gentle with yourself.

        You are a child of the universe,
        no less than the trees & 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 labours & aspirations,
        in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
        With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams,
        it is still a beautiful world.

        Be cheerful.

        Strive to be happy.


Concerning the actual source of this document,
the following question and response to the sci.classics newsgroup is of note.

Date: Mon, 15 Jan 96 00:00:53 PST
From: misrael@scripps.edu (Mark Israel)
To: prfbrown@magna.com.au
Subject: Re: Desiderata

In article <4d7320$act@kettle.magna.com.au>, you write:

> Attached above is the text known as "desiderata".
> I am quite sure there would have been thread concerning this in the past.
> However I am interested whether anything substantial was determined
> from these earlier discussions - or possibly personal research -
> concerning the actual historical source for this quite inspiring text.

From the alt.usage.english FAQ file:

"Desiderata" was written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945). In 1956, the rector of St. Paul's Church in Baltimore, Maryland, used the poem in a collection of mimeographed inspirational material for his congregation. Someone who subsequently printed it asserted that it was found in Old St. Paul's Church, dated 1692. The year 1692 was the founding date of the church and has nothing to do with the poem. See Fred D. Cavinder, "Desiderata", _TWA Ambassador_, Aug. 1973, pp. 14-15.

The Desiderata Myth

The Desiderata is a very famous poem. Unfortunately, many prints and reproductions give credit to the wrong source. You may see "found in Old Saint Paul's Church 1692" or "by anonymous" but this is incorrect. A copy of the poem was in fact "found" at Old Saint Paul's Church, but not in 1692. The year "1692" happens to be the date that the church was established, but there was no structure there at that time. Here is the story of how this myth-understanding began.

Few people seem to know who wrote it - or when
by Sam McGarrity, Guideposts Associate Editor

Desiderata - a poetic formula for happiness, a gentle urging to be at peace with God and with life - is known and loved the world over for its words of reaasurance. Its message, heralded on posters and plaques hanging in homes and over desks, has comforted and inspired millions  of people. Television audiences have heard it from the lips of Ali McGraw, Jonny Cash and Joan Crawford. Ann Landersīreaders have found it in her column.

Itīs been printed in Readerīs Digest, Good Housekeeping and New Woman. and in the sixties hippies passed it out on street corners. In 1972, it was recorded as a narrative song that sold more than a million copies. Itīs been recited at weddings and funerals, and just before his death, Adlai Stevenson had planned to use it as his Christmas greeting.

The wealthy, the poor, the famous and the infamous have used Desiderata as a guide in changing their lives for the better. Affluent attorneys attest to this. So do ex-convicts and ex-drug addicts. It has been used in drug rehabilitation programs. It has been shared in schoolrooms, in courtrooms. Thereīs even a woman on Park Avenue in New York who has it printed on her hostess apron.

Yet, in spite of the fame of Desiderata, few people seem to know the true story of its origins. In fact, many people think, mistakenly, that it was written in the 17th century and inscribed on a wall at St.Paulīs Episcopal Church in Baltimore. How surprised they are to learn that it was actually written in 1927 by a stocky, middle-aged, Indiana attorney named Max Ehrmann.

The confusion began one Sunday in the late-fifties. The Reverend Frederick Ward Kates, then rector of St.Paulīs, liked to distribute copies of inspirational pieces to his parishioners. That particular Sunday he placed Desiderata in the pews; it was printed on the churchīs letterhead, which contained the churchīs date of founding: 1692.

It is thought, that the mimeographed copies passed from hand to hand until it landed on the desk of an editor. Seeing the date 1692, the editor assumed the piece was in the public domain, had Desiderata printed up, stuck the name of the church and the date underneath, and so began a massive theft of a copyrighted, contemporary work.

This created a costly and frustrating predicament for Robert L. Bell of Melrose, Massachusetts, who in 1967 acquired the copyright to Desiderata at great financial risk. "At the time," recalls Bell,"I was president of Bruce Humphries, a publishing company that was starving for lack of capital, which owned the publishing rights to  Desiderata and which owed me $16.000 in back salary. I was having an incredible struggle trying to support my wife and four children, one of whom was in college.

"I owned loans against Bruce Humphries and, in a court procedure, agreed to relinquish my liens in exchange for the publishing rights to  Desiderata. Then I took every cent Ihad and bought the copyright from Richmond Wight, nephew and heir to the Ehrmann works.

More Historical Facts

Mr. Ehrmann, who was born in 1872, entered Harvardīs School of Philosophy at the age of 22. He studied philosophy and law, spent ten years writing six books and finally, when he realized he could not make a living as a writer, began practicing law. Later he became deputy prosecuting attorney in Terre Haute.

He died in 1945. Three years later his widow included "Desiderata" in "The poems of Max Ehrmann," published in 1948 by the Bruce Humphries Publishing Company, of Boston

The Rev. Halsey Cook, rector of Old St.Paulīs, told inquirers that no literary work of any kind could have possibly have been found in St. Paulīs Church in Baltimore in 1692, because the church did not then exist. St. Paulīs parish was established in 1692, but its first crude log church was not erected until the following year.

"Desiderata" appeared in "Between Dawn and Dark," a booklet compiled by the Rev. Frederick Ward Kates, who had been rector of Old St. Paulīs from 1956 to 1961.

A Baltimore authority on early English literature said, "This work, as it reads now, was not written in 1692. The words are not those of the Seventeenth Century, nor is it the composition."

The present owner of the copyright:
Mr. Robert L. Bell, 669 Main Street, Melrose, Massachusetts 02176, Tel. (617) 665-4998

Saint Paulsīs Parish is located at 309 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201


Life...

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife and enjoying his extended family. He would miss his paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.  The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.

When the carpenter finished his work the employer came to inspect the house. He handed the front-door key to the carpenter.". This is your house," he said, "my gift to you." The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.  So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then with a shock we realize we have to live in the house we have built. If we could do it over, we'd do it much differently.

But we cannot go back. You are the carpenter. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall, "Life is a do-it-yourself project," someone has said.  Your attitudes and the choices you make today, build the "house" you live in tomorrow.

Build wisely!

Remember.......


Work like you don't need the money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
Dance like nobody is watching.

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