It would be a Revolution indeed if we all resolved to live by these beautiful principles.
1. Leave the lights on – while you are making love. Global warming won’t care about that.
2. Be frugal – with other people’s time and energy. There are all kinds of conservations we need to practice.
3. Be generous – with your own time and money. You will be rewarded in the most unlikely and loving ways.
4. Give thanks – when they are not expected. True gratitude is catching and spreads faster than measles.
5. Respond quickly – with warmth and impulsive hugs. Don’t wait too long to say “thank you” – or it will lose its spark.
6. Be silent – when there is nothing good to say. Better still, find something nice to say – it might actually come true.
7. Sit with a cat in your lap for at least ten minutes a day – and dream of what you want. Because the cat dreams one hundred times more than that and seems to get everything he wants.
8. Reach out to someone you may have hurt or ignored – they are waiting for you. An outstretched hand is hard to ignore, especially when it is palm upwards.
9. Do not hoard your wisdom, your compassion nor your sense of self worth. Unless you share the first two, the third will surely wither and fade.
10. Live in the spirit of the Desiderata – for it is a timeless message of simple peace and tranquility.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 it’s sham,
Drudgery and broken dreams,
It is still a beautiful world.
Be careful. Strive to be happy
When Robbie and I were married, we gave each guest a copy of the Desiderata, because it was a great declaration of the spirit in which we entered our future lives together.
Yet the history of the Desiderata, considering its loving and peaceful message, is shrouded with confusion and angst. Its author is Max Ehrmann, a poet and lawyer from Indiana, who lived from 1872 to 1945, wrote in his diary: “I should like, if I could, to leave a humble gift — a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods”.
In the US, copyright exists from the moment the work is created, but to sue for breach of copyright requires that it must first be registered and published copies of the work must include the notation that the work is copyright and to whom.
Desiderata probably written in the early 1920’s, but no application was made for copyright until 1927 and the 1977 Annual Report of the US Register of Copyrights, sets out the key point that forfeiture had occurred by authorized publication of copies without the correct notice on them.
In 1942 and 1944 (well after registration), Ehrmann had friendly correspondence with Merrill Moore, a US Army psychiatrist, and their letters were held to supply direct credible evidence of a general publication authorized by the copyright proprietor. Permission to use the work was given gratuitously, because their mutual correspondence showed that he used the work in dealing with servicemen who were suffering various mental anguishes. Nowhere was a copyright or copyright notice mentioned.
The lone copy of the poem found in the Merrill Moore papers did not have such a notice and neither did the copy that Reverend Kates found some years later, and the clergyman testified that he distributed “many copies” without the required notice. It was his publication, with the heading “Old Saint Paul’s Church in Baltimore, Maryland” that gave rise to the story that the work had originally been published in 1692.
The current owner of the copyright, Robert L. Bell, who acquired the copyright to Desiderata at great financial risk from Richmond Wight, nephew and heir to the Ehrmann works in 1967, sued Combined Registry Company, lost and then lost his appeal on 14 May 1976 in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
The conclusion of abandonment rests upon a finding of Mr. Ehrmann’s long-term intent to contribute Desiderata to the public and whether or not this poem is in the public domain depends upon your point of view and your place of residence. In Australia, a (©) is not required on a work to gain copyright and only the copyright owner is entitled to place a notice.
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