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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1114
AUTHOR: Max Ehrmann (1872–1945)
QUOTATION: Go placidly amid the noise and the 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 to 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 or 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 in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
ATTRIBUTION: MAX EHRMANN, “Desiderata,” The Poems of Max Ehrmann, p. 165 (1948).

There has been confusion about the authorship of this poem. In 1956, the rector of St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore, Maryland, used the poem in a collection of mimeographed inspirational material for his congregation. Someone printing it later said it was found in Old St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore, dated 1692. The year 1692 is the founding date of the church and has nothing to do with the poem, which was written in 1927. It was widely distributed with the 1692 date. A copy of it was found on the bedside table of Adlai Stevenson’s New York apartment after his death in 1965. He had been planning to use it on his Christmas cards identifying it as an ancient poem. The Stevenson connection helped bring the poem to the attention of the public.—Fred D. Cavinder, “Desiderata,” TWA Ambassador, August 1973, pp. 14–15.