A calming poem for a busy day (or a busy life)

Life is busier than its usual busy right now – so today I'm being kinder to myself by giving you a poem instead of a blog post.

I didn’t even write the poem, but I can almost recite it by heart for you.

Sometimes, lines from this poem pop uninvited into my mind. Like they did today, which reminded me to share it here on the blog, where we’re trying to be kinder to ourselves and calmer in the world.

It’s an oldie but a goodie.

My two favourite parts?

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

And this ...

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. 

Some lines are probably showing their age: it was written over 60 years ago, after all. But overall, I think it’s a lovely one to remember sometimes.

Maybe you know this poem? Maybe its wisdom finds its way into your mind some days too? If you’ve never read it, or even if you know it well, here it is for you today, in case you need it.

The Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann, 1952

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. 

 

Do you like the Desiderata? What are your favourite lines? 

Natalie Bartley