Wednesday 17 February 2010

All is Often Not What it Seems, You Never Stop Learning.

I have done around two hundred blogs. This has turned out to be one of the strangest. Let me tell you why.
I came across a piece of writing that impressed me. 'The Rule of Life' a homily apparently originating from the Old Saint Paul's Church in Baltimore and dated 1692. (I discovered it in a 1972 book called 'Top Pops' Book of Common Sense' by a Mr Neil Prendercost.) I marvelled at the wisdom emanating from all those years ago. I viewed American history in a new light.
Unfortunately I discover the 'poem' is actually Desiderata, by lawyer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) of Terre Haute, Indiana, written probably in the 1920's ( Desiderata is Latin and means 'things that are yearned for'.) Used by the Reverend Frederick Kates in 1959 to 'inspire' his congregation, the myth concerning its origin gained credence when it was found amongst the personal papers of a deceased American politician, Adlai Stevenson in 1965. (Evidently Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry kept a copy in his office. It was also the words used in a 1971 hit pop record by Les Crane for which he received a 'Grammy' for 'best spoken word recording'.)
I also noticed this work highlighted in a rather right wing Christian American blog, obviously accepted as an original piece. (quoted as from 1693.)
In a way I am pleased that I was initially gullible enough to be taken in concerning its authenticity. For cynicism in life is to be avoided where possible. But it does make you wonder where exactly we draw the line when we are given information. (Is it a coincidence that Mr Stevenson was a politician or is that me now being cynical!)
Another strange twist to the story. I found the original recording by Les Crane. I thought some of you might like to hear it so I pasted it from Utube onto the rough copy of this blog. Lo and behold, it has been removed from both Utube and my rough copy blog by the powers to be, something to do with copyright. (My reproducing it had no financial application plus I marvel at the ability to do such a thing. Amazing, and not a little alarming, this modern technology.) But I found at least two more interpretations you may or may not like. One at least was totally irreverent and I would not wish to offend though neither am I particularly into censorship. Of any case I finished up with two playing simultaneously and unstoppably so! I swear there is something eerily haunting about Desiderata. Hopefully one remains on this blog for your bemused perusal. All in all this blog has been an eye opener for me. Any comments very welcome. I would also love to know how many of my readers, particularly in the USA knew Desiderata was not all that it seemed.

And despite everything I consider 'Desiderata' well worth reading, despite its checkered history.


Robert said...

Hi Ken - My dentist has Desiderata stuck on his ceiling, c/w the author's name & approx date. You can do worse than read this while you're have bits of your teeth drilled into dust...

You can get the Les Crane version of this here-

It's by far the best vedsion - imho, of course.

Von said...

Know it for decades Ken but not back to the 1600's!I didn't know all the history though which is fascinating.Scarey thing the internet sometimes!Keep safe!

Hilary said...

Desiderata was a favourite way back in my teens. It was on posters, greeting cards and in poetry books. I had a parchment-printed version up on my wall.

Somewhere along the way, I think that Telly Savalis did a particularly corny version of it and National Lampoon also did a nonsensical satire called Detiorata.

I haven't read/heard Desiderata in a long time. Thanks for that.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Highly recommended
Detiorata, see comment by Hilary.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi Robert
Am highly amused that it is above a dentists chair! Or am I being cynical again?

Grumpy Old Ken said...

The whole thing is unnerving. See Hilary's recording, Ken is mentioned, how odd!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Record is great. how strange Ken is mentioned. Its getting to me, Desiderata!

An English Shepherd said...

Being gullible keeps you young Ken ;-)


Kath said...

Not a bad set of guidelines to live by, I'd say.

AGuidingLife said...

I first read it in a Chapel in a Guiding Centre last Easter and it moved me massively. I came home quite excited with photos of it to share with my husband and he said "oh that's Desiderata. The whole 1600s thing is completely made up you know" and the wind was knocked out of my sails!!! Still it's words aren't changed by a date.

Nakamuras on Saipan said...

Thanks for posting this-it was very interesting.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

English Shepherd
Interesting idea, oh to be really young again!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

True enough!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

I know the feeling but very true what you say.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Thanks for the interest.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Thanks for the interest.

MYRNA said...

I have never heard of it before. It is lovely, as is the video that accompanies it. It shows me that kindness, introspection, self care, and a strong value system never go out of style.