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Max Ehrmann
A General Summary

As soon as one reads the poem, Desiderata, a sudden upsurge

is felt within the veins of the reader. Each stanza has a significant
idea embedded in it, the reading of which exalts the reader and
wipes out gradually the questions and confusions that inherently
is lodged within ones mind. The poem is highly thought
provoking. The whole poem is overtly didactic like the classical
texts. The poem seems to properly qualify itself as one which
entertains and educates us. The above mentioned two qualities of
a good writing makes a work of literary arty, a classic, and
Desiderata is a classic poem and has a universal appeal.
The reading of this poem has a quite soothing and civilizing
effect on the reads. The poet advises us to cultivate a nature in us
which is equanimous. The proper cultivation or grooming of ones
nature amounts to ones character. And characters determine our
destiny. Ehrmann wants us to groom ourselves in a manner that is
self-enlightening. The hearing and responding to ones activated
and surcharged soul in conducive to self-enlightment. And this
recognition is possible only a person shall develop the
competence to peep, deep into the soul, the potential of the mind
that God has bestowed upon us. Ehrmann uses the noun, God,
in the given poem. This mentioning of the noun, God sometimes
bring the poem to be ecclesiastical and highly preaching.
The poem has a very civilizing effect on us. It seems that
even the most barbaric could not help himself to resist the effect
of this poem. Through this poem, Ehrmann to a degree, resembles
to Galsworthy. In one of his play (Justice), Galsworthy suggests
how law must be tempered with emotion, that is, reason must be
tempered with emotion. In a similar way, Ehrmann wants us to
accommodate both the rational and emotional principal in us.
According to him, not educating the heart, and merely educating
our mind would tantamount to something quite dangerous. It is
because of this reason that he wants us to polish our spirit.
The poem takes a very pragmatic approach in some stanzas
of the poem. The poet wants us to develop the discretion of
choice. Ehrmann in the very lucid manner wants us to look
through what is real and what is appearance, that what is valid
and what is not. Ehrmann seems critical of those phenomenon
which are hyperreal and misleading. It is because of this reason
that he wants us exercise caution in our affairs. Along with the
above mentioned phenomenon, Ehrmann is also critical of the
iconoclastic generation that was dwelling in America when he
wrote the poem. The iconoclast people identify no authority and
rules. Ironically, these people even dont have a certain solution
to their skeptical problems. Ehrmann, here surfaces as a liberal
humanist. He wants us to be more tolerant and exercise
perseverance in our daily life. The nurturing of such qualities will
bring harmony among people and would be exalting for everyone.
Ehrmann, in his poem is of the opinion that a man is not born
evil, a man is just born ignorant. But it is the distinctive quality of
men to reach a level of knowledge through exercise and
education. He writes that when a person starts moving forth in
the enlightened path, he conceives of a universe that is so wide
and diverse. The whole universe unfolds itself and opens its
colossus arms to embrace its child. It is for this reason that
Ehrmann says that we are the child of God, hence the universe. In
this way Ehrmann gives us the key to unlock the vivacity and
vividness of the universe.
For Ehrmann, a modern man is not a leisurely stroller. For
him, a modern man is born for a purpose. However difficult it
would be to come out of the chaotic maze of life, listening to our
inner-self recedes this sea of difficulty. Ehrmanns simplicity of
poetic efficacy straight worthy thrones our consciousness. We are
at once absolved of that gutt feeling which has intoxicated us
hitherto. We start feeling the rolling of wheels that is to lead us
through enlightened path.