Desiderata

DESIDERATA - A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR LIFE

Written by American poet, playwright and philosopher Max Ehrmann in 1927, Desiderata (Latin for "things to be desired") is among the world's most popular poems. Much loved for its eloquent stating of those simple truths often overlooked in the stresses of everyday life, Desiderata contains a timeless message of faith, hope and charity.

In an increasingly complex world Desiderata provides us with a refreshing perspective on life's bigger picture. Its formula happiness, its gentle urging to be at peace with God and life, has a universal appeal.

In this new book, the poem's expressive prose is enhanced by a selection of resonant, evocative images.

Max Ehrmann, poet, and lawyer from Terre Haute, Indiana, lived from 1872 to 1945. It has been reported that Desiderata was inspired by a wish Ehrmann had to produce something for posterity, as he recorded in his diary. "I should like, if I could, to leave a humble gift - a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods."

A prose poem, Desiderata was written in 1927. At Christmas - time 1933, Ehrmann sent out Christmas cards including the text of Desiderata.

Later, during World War 2, Merrill Moore, a United States Army psychiatrist wrote to Ehrmann to advise that he has distributed an estimated 1000 copies of Desiderata over the years while in civilian practice in Boston and requested permission to distribute Desiderata to soldiers as part of his army care.

As the material was handed from one person to another, the authorship became clouded. In 1957, a Reverend Kates included a copy of Desiderata without copyright notice in his book Between Dawn and Dark. He also distributed a substantial number of copies of desiderata to his parishioners while he was at St. Paul's Church in Baltimore, Maryland.

Copies with the "Old St Paul's Church" notation were printed and distributed liberally in the years that followed. It is perhaps understandable that later publishers would interpret the notion as meaning that the poem itself was found in Old St. Paul's Church which was founded in 1692.

Desiderata gained huge popularity on posters during the "make peace, not war" movement of the 1960's and in that decade and during the 1970's a large number of periodicals also printed Desiderata, many of them accompanying the poem with the erroneous attribution "Found in Old St. Paul's Church, Baltimore, Dated 1692".

When Adlai Stevenson died in 1965, a guest in his home found a copy of Desiderata near his bedside and discovered that Stevenson had planned to use it in his Christmas cards. The publicity that followed gave widespread fame to the poem as well as to the continuing mistaken relationship of the poem to St. Paul's Church.

 

 

 
 

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