Max Ehrmann

Max Ehrmann Poems

1.
Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
...

2.
Dark Days

What fool shall say, 'My days are fair,
God's in his world and all is well,'
When half mankind shrieks in despair
Worse than in Dante's flaming hell!
...

3.
Desiderata - Words for Life

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 vexations 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.
...

4.
Whatever Else You Do

Whatever else you do or forbear,
impose upon yourself the task of happiness;
and now and then abandon yourself
to the joy of laughter.

And however much you condemn
the evil in the world, remember that the
world is not all evil; that somewhere
children are at play, as you yourself in the
old days; that women still find joy
in the stalwart hearts of men;

And that men, treading with restless feet
their many paths, may yet find refuge
from the storms of the world in the cheerful
house of love.
...

5.
Dark Days

What fool shall say, 'My days are fair,
God's in his world and all is well,'
When half mankind shrieks in despair
Worse than in Dante's flaming hell!

I cannot sing in happy mood
While hostile armies take their toll.
On these dark days I toil and brood
With starless midnight in my soul.

And yet, O World, O Life, O God!
I find myself, jest as the fool,
Believing in thy chastening rod,
Believing still that love must rule.
...

Max Ehrmann Comments

Sharon Kraemer 22 August 2018

I have loved this mans writings for years. I have lived by Desiderata since my teens. I am 67 now and still pass this poem onto family and friends. It is a timeless poem with so much wisdom. 2018.

6 0 Reply
sunnyfields 20 April 2020

I am drawn to this poem amid the days of the Pandemic of Covid 19.

0 0 Reply
Tessa 18 August 2019

What a wonderful and inspiring poet- -and person.

1 0 Reply
sadiqa 07 March 2019

i just love desiderata.....its too motivational n didactic...:- desiderata feel realistic

1 0 Reply
Brianna 21 February 2019

Reading his poetry, I feel like I am in a conversation with him in the same room. Desiderata is a such a beautiful piece and is so advanced. " And whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should."

1 0 Reply
Ron jackson 13 February 2019

A brilliant writer with a true heart. God Bless

2 0 Reply

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Max Ehrmann Biography

Max Ehrmann (September 26, 1872 – September 9, 1945) was an American writer, poet, and attorney from Terre Haute, Indiana, widely known for his 1927 prose poem "Desiderata" (Latin: "things desired"). He often wrote on spiritual themes.
Ehrmann was of German descent; both his parents emigrated from Bavaria in the 1840s. Young Ehrmann was educated a ...

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