Posted by: cochinblogger | January 11, 2011


I was staying with relatives in Chennai just before joining engineering college. On the walls of the room I was assigned, I found a wonderful poem titled “Desiderata” that seemed to speak directly to me. I immediately copied it in a notebook.

Once I got a single room in college, which was after a couple of years, I wrote the poem on chart paper with a sketch pen, and hung it on a wall.

I’ve lost count of the number of college mates who happened to step into my room, read the poem, and then copied it down for their own use.

Only recently did I learn more about the origin of this poem. It was thought to be centuries old, supposedly having been discovered in an old cathedral. But it is now known to have been written in 1927 by the American writer Max Ehrmann.

You can read more about the poem here:

And finally, here is the poem itself. If you haven’t read it before, you’re in for a treat. You may not agree with everything in it, but there’s something there for everybody.


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 vexatious 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 cheerful.
Strive to be happy.



  1. Except that it is broken into
    lines and stanzas,
    I fail to see how
    it can come within
    the definition of poetry

    Any more than this

    • It’s supposed to be a prose poem.

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