Commentary at the end…
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 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 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.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical 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 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 careful. Strive to be happy.
© Max Ehrmann 1927
Over the years my wife and I have come back to contemplate this simple poem.
We are well read in religion, philosophy, and personal development, and find this is one of those rare messages that can transcend dogmatic barriers, and touch anyone’s soul. It has an air of intimacy, like a wise old grandfather whispering to you some practical, inside information. Indeed, I believe this short poem alone can guide one to being a godly, spiritual, or ethical person. Yet, it contains no promises of either immortality, riches of any sort, unconditional healing, or other ease of living.
Almost every line has been a favorite of mine at some point or other. One of the regular standouts for me; Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. So many times we want spiritual wisdom, strength, and answers, desperately, in a time of crisis. But otherwise have no time to explore and develop when things are neutral or well. Nurture… these words are uplifting, relaxing, and motivational all at the same time.
It is one of the treasures of wisdom I like to share with friends and loved ones.