Discover more from augmented’s journey
Behind the Words: The History and Meaning of Desiderata
Defining 'Desiderata': From the Poet's Perspective
Sentence by Sentence: Desiderata Meaning
Through the cacophony of existence, "Desiderata," a poem penned by Max Ehrmann in the whispering twilight of 1927, glides elegantly as a wisp of smoke, inviting the reader into its quiet sanctuary. The poem is a whispered lullaby in the midst of an orchestral storm, a guide for finding the marble in the vast ocean of sand.
"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence."
Dictionary Definitions: Unraveling 'Desiderata'
"Desiderata," a prose poem, serves as an eloquent guide for leading a fulfilling life. The title, derived from Latin, translates to "desired things" in English, as defined by the Collins English Dictionary and Dictionary.com. The poem was largely unnoticed until the '60s and '70s when it began appearing in various forms, such as posters and magazine pieces.
The Power of Every Word in 'Desiderata
There is a tenderness in the poem's voice, soft and delicate, whispering at the edge of our consciousness. It urges us to simmer in the comforting broth of silence, allowing for the gathering and nurture of our thoughts, while embracing a broader planetary citizenship.
"Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story."
Ehrmann recognizes the chaotic dance of life swirling around us, with its endless pirouettes and symphonies of noise. Amid this whirlwind, he gifts us a contemplative moment, a breath of stillness where we can collect ourselves, be present, and find a sanctuary of peace.
"Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit."
Relating 'Desiderata' to Contemporary Life
"Desiderata" quietly subverts the noisy narrative and reminds us to listen to the smallest voices within the cacophony - the silent, celestial breaths that hold their wisdom. Here, we learn humility and appreciation for the stories hidden among the mundane, the dull, and the often dismissed. Ehrmann encourages us to appreciate our own journeys, stating, "Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time."
The poem is a vigilant sentinel against the temptations of the world, reminding us to navigate the existence with caution, without becoming ensnared by its deceitful and cunning traps.
"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."
Softly, "Desiderata" also weaves a narrative of love: one which gently takes our hand and uncloaks the trappings of cynicism that bind us. It offers solace, divulging that love is perennial, persistent even in the barren landscapes of our brokenness.
"Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass."
Finally, our journey through "Desiderata" closes with an invitation to not only strive for happiness but to be an active participant in its creation. Ehrmann imparts wisdom through his closing lines, "With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy." This offers transcendence from the mundane into the realm of self-discovery, uncovering a sanctuary of peace within the confines of our souls.
The raucous echoes of life may blur the clarity of our cosmic purpose, but through the lessons imparted by Ehrmann, we learn to navigate the tempestuous seas with refinement, grace, and an abiding optimism that brims with celestial wisdom. We are reminded that, "You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here." With these words, we are left to face the chaos with unshakable grace, resilience, and ultimately, the quiet certainty that we are woven into the heart
The Famous 'Desiderata' Poster: A History
Mr. Ehrmann, an author from Indiana, infuses profound advice in "Desiderata," relating to virtues like humility, patience, honesty, and love. In 1959, a copy of this poem resurfaced in St. Paul's Church in Baltimore, where it was mistaken as an older piece due to its placement on a poster with an incorrect publication date. This led to copyright disputes in the U.S court with Robert L. Bell, heir to the Ehrmann estate.
Copyright Controversies Surrounding 'Desiderata'
However, the original version was confirmed to be published by Bruce Humphries Publishing Company. This event provided deeper insights into the history behind "Desiderata," reminding us of its timeless relevance, as it continues to resonate with current generations, even as of 2023. The poem is now in the public domain everywhere in the U.S., which is the case for all written works written before 1928.
The poem's structure, despite being prose, possesses a lyrical quality, underlining its inherent meaning. According to the British pronunciation, "Desiderata" reminds us that it is possible to navigate the chaos of life with grace and resilience, even amid hardships. It ultimately serves as a testament to our capacity for love, peace, and enduring happiness, preserving its essence in the annals of poetic history.
Some appreciate it as a guide for living, while others may find it trite or preachy due to their personal experiences. Critics have acknowledged the poem's use of poetic techniques, such as enjambment, sibilance, and alliteration, which contribute to its broad interpretation and relatability. The poem's structure has been likened to a speech or manifesto, and it has even inspired parodies like Tony Hendra's "Deteriorata."