What Is the Meaning of the Poem “Desiderata”?

The poem “Desiderata” focuses on the idea that people should see the world, with both its joys and its troubles, with hope and placidity. The title translates from Latin to “Desired Things.”

“Desiderata” was written by Max Ehrman in 1927. Ehrman lived from 1872 to 1945, although his work did not become famous in his lifetime. Sometimes the poem is wrongly attributed to Old St. Paul’s Church, with claims it was found there in 1692, but the actual reason behind this was because a rector at St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore in 1959 used the poem in congregational materials for the congregation. The church was founded in 1692, and the material was printed with the church’s name and founding date at the top, which led to the confusion.

Ehrman’s work reminds people to listen to their inner voice and to understand that all people are struggling with their own troubles and could use help and compassion from others. The theme of the poem is directing people to focus on their own selves rather than using their time to judge others and the world around them, but also not to judge oneself, but instead to find an inner peace.

It asserts that a person should be true to himself, do what makes him happiest in the world, and that both the universe and a higher power embrace each individual on the planet. Overall, the focus of the poem is that people should have a more love-based focus both in their interactions with others and in their inner voice.