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Max Ehrmann


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.

This poem is in the public domain.


Max Ehrmann (1872 - 1945) was an attorney, businessman, and writer from Terre Haute, Indiana. The son of German immigrants, he attended Harvard, obtained a degree in law, and worked in the family business (an overall manufacturing company) for many years. Always interested in writing, even though it was not the career path he followed, Max published a variety of books, articles, essays, and poems throughout the course of his life. At forty, he began to write in earnest, primarily inspirational work, because he wanted to leave behind a legacy of something noble and uplifting. Though he never achieved great acclaim during his lifetime, this poem became widely known and hugely popular after his death. Its title is a Latin word which, loosely translated, means "essential things."

Post New Comment:
I've always loved this poem. It was the keynote event at my son's graduation from grade school. Good choice, Jayne. Happy Birthday, Vera.
Posted 01/31/2012 10:01 PM
I've seen this poem many times, but it is good to be reminded of it again. I shall re-read it and keep it on file. Thank you for this selection.
Posted 01/31/2012 05:16 PM
I have had this in my home for many years and love it. I didn't know the title's latin meaning so thank you... A wise ending, the - 'strive' to be happy ~ an important word, often over-looked. Judy
Posted 01/31/2012 12:05 PM
. . . it's hung in our bathroom, real-life wisdom to be read daily . . . the proper honor to Vera . . .
Posted 01/31/2012 10:46 AM
I've always loved this piece...such wisdom in it...
Posted 01/31/2012 07:54 AM
This is a poem we should keep by our work space so it is available every day. It puts things in the right perspective.
Posted 01/31/2012 07:02 AM
nadia ibrashi:
What a lovely poem and tribute to your sister. This has always been one of my favorite works.
Posted 01/31/2012 04:12 AM

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