18 March 2011

For Ted

My father-in-law passed away on March 9th, aged 91, and it was his funeral today. This was the passage I recited during the service.

DESIDERATA

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 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 labours 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.

The author was Max Ehrmann, an American prose poet. He wrote it in 1927. I thought I'd share it today, even though it's a reasonably well-known piece of work, especially since the similar Wear Sunscreen was published a few years back.

2 comments:

Five-Centres said...

Sorry to hear that Matt. I went through all that last year. Not pleasant. My condolences.

Wasn't there a 70s hit called Desiderata by Les Crane that was exactly that? Sure it was a top ten hit circa 1972

Matthew Rudd said...

Yes indeed, although that wasn't the source of the piece when I was asked to do it. It came from a clipping from a Sunday supplement sometime in the 1970s that had been kept in a wallet. It was also only half-completed, so I had to find the full thing online.

Thanks F-C.