by Max Ehrmann

Allez tranquillement parmi le vacarme et la hâte
Go placidly amid the noise and haste

Et souvenez-vous de la paix qui peut exister dans le silence
Remember what peace there may be in silence

Swiss Landscape with Flowering Apple Tree (1876)
Gustave Courbet
source Wikiart

Sans aliénation, vivre autant que possible en bons termes avec toutes personnes

As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons

Dîtes doucement et clairement votre vérité; et écoutez les autres, même le simple d’esprit et l’ignorant, ils ont eux aussi leur histoire.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Évitez les individus bruyants et agressifs, ils sont une vexation pour l’esprit.
Avoid loud and agressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

Ne vous comparez avec personne : vous risqueriez de devenir vain ou vaniteux.

If you compare yourselves with others, you may become vain and bitter.

Il y a toujours plus grand et plus petit que vous.
For there with always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Jouissez de vos projets aussi bien que de vos accomplissements.
Enjoy your acheivements as well as your plans.
Soyez toujours intéressé à votre carrière, si modeste soit-elle
Keep interested in your own career, however humble

C’est un véritable atout dans les prospérités changeantes du temps
It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Flower Seller at la Madeleine
Edouard Cortes
source Wikiart

Soyez prudent dans vos affaires car le monde est plein de ruses

Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery

Mais ne soyez pas aveugle en ce qui concerne la vertu qui existe ;
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

Plusieurs individus recherchent les grands idéaux ;
Many persons strive for by high ideals;

Et partout la vie est remplie d’héroïsme.
And everywhere life is full of heroism

Soyez vous-même. Surtout n’affectez pas l’amitié.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection.

Non plus ne soyez cynique en amour
Neither be cynical about love

Car il est en face de toute stérilité et de tout désenchantement aussi éternel que l’herbe
For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass
Portrait of an Old Man (1860)
Konstantin Makovsky
source Wikiart

Prenez avec bonté le conseil des années,

Take kindly to the counsel of the years

En renonçant avec grâce à votre jeunesse.
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth

Fortifiez une puissance d’esprit pour vous protéger en cas de malheur
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune

Mais ne vous chagrinez pas avec vos chimères.
But do not distress yourself with imaginings

De nombreuses peurs naissent de la fatigue et de la solitude.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness

Au delà d’une discipline saine, soyez doux avec vous-même
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself
Vous êtes un enfant de l’univers, pas moins que les arbres et les étoiles;
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;

Vous avez le droit d’etre ici.
You have a right to be here.

Et qu’il vous soit clair ou non, l’univers se déroule sans doute comme il le devrait
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Soyez en paix avec Dieu, quelle que soit votre conception de lui
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be

Quels que soient vos travaux et vos rêves,

Whatever your labors and aspirations

Gardez, dans le désarroi bruyant de la vie, la paix de votre âme.
In the noisy confusion of life, keep at peace with your soul

Avec toutes ses perfidies, ses besognes fastidieuses et ses rêves brisés,
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams

Le monde est pourtant beau ;
It is still a beautiful world;

Prenez attention.
Be cheerful.

Tâchez d’être heureux.
Strive to be happy.

“Desiderata” in Latin means “desired things”  It is a poem that was written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann, a poet, writer and attorney, yet it’s popularity only spiralled after his death.  In 1956, a rector of St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore, Reverend Frederick Kates, included the poem in some devotional material that he planned to give to his congregation, starting the poem on a path of common recognition.  When U.S. presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson was found dead in his home in 1965, a copy of this poem was found by his bed which furthered its rising popularity.  Since then, numerous politicians, actors and musicians have either used the poem for their art or spoken of the effect that it has had on them in their lives.

A bronze statue of Ehrmann can be found in his hometown of Terre Haute, Indianna.

Max Ehrmann (1949)
source Wikipedia

5 thoughts on “Desiderata

  1. Thank you for sharing this poem. I especially love the part of the poem where it says that many people study the great ideals but we need heroism.

  2. I like that part too. And he seems to imply heroism in the small things ….. areas and situations that are not necessary obvious or flamboyant but heroism nonetheless.

    I also like the last line: Strive to be happy. He implies that happiness is something that needs to be worked on, that it doesn't necessarily come easily.

    He touches on many great ideas that can help us in life!

  3. Uplifting words with my coffee this morning, I read it completely in French! I was not aware of this poem and thanks for bringing it to my attention, Another poem that I love is " Tomorrow at dawn…." Victor Hugo's poem on the 4th anniversary of his daughter's death ( Leopoldine) Demain, dès l'aube…

  4. I'm so glad I was able to introduce this poem to you! I was hesitating on whether to post it because I thought it might be too familiar. Luckily I was wrong.

    I checked out the Victor Hugo poem you recommended. How very poignant and tragic. Yet, again, I think the English translation doesn't completely convey the depth of his sadness. Thanks for introducing this poem to me!

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