Analysis of “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann
Poetic devices- Some of the poetic devices employed in Desiderata poem by Max Ehrmann are alliteration and simile.
1.Simile- A simile is a figure of speech in which a likeness between two different things is stated in an explicit way using the words ‘as’ or ‘like’. For instance,
“Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
It is as perennial as the grass.”
Here, love and grass are absolutely two different things that have been compared together. Love is compared to the perennial nature of the grass. It is meant to suggest the idea that as grass love grows on its own unconditionally and selflessly. The implication is that when life becomes arid and monotonous, love will support people like the grass that grows throughout the year.
2. Alliteration- Alliteration is the close repetition of consonant sounds, usually at the beginning of words. For instance,
“Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.”
Desiderata Poem Analysis
Desiderata Poem Tone-
“Desiderata” is an inspirational poem by Max Ehrmann in which he attempts to offer a positive outlook towards life. The tone of the poem is didactic which is complemented by the use of imperative sentences. The overall tone of the poem Desiderata is very positive and inspiring. The poet advises people to be nice and kind to others and be a good listener. He advises them to look at the world for the beauty that it possesses. According to him loud and aggressive people who produce a negative impact on our lives must be ignored. The world is a balance of positivity and negativity and the poet tries to inspire his readers to look out for the good things in this world.
He inspires the readers to strive for happiness amidst all the misfortunes, hypocrisy and broken dreams. He poet cautions the readers of the evil tricksters in the world and advises them to be careful. But at the same time, he asks them not to overlook the beauty in this world. He suggests the readers be kind to people and not compare themselves with others. He advises them to accept themselves for who they are and to maintain their inner peace. The poet also warns them not to distress themselves with “dark imaginings” and remain strong and calm. Throughout the poem, the poet tries to encourage people to live their lives in a better and constructive way.
Desiderata Poem Themes
1.Positive outlook towards life- The note of positivity and encouragement remains predominant throughout the whole Desiderata poem. The poet inspires the readers to maintain a positive outlook in even the harshest situations relating to career, love, business, loneliness, unfulfilled dreams or the cruel traps in the world in general. It’s all on you how you want to see the world. You want to criticize it for the cruelties it possesses or you want to appreciate it for the beauty and joy that it spreads, is totally up to you. One must remain on good terms with his fellow human beings and be a good listener. This poem reminds us that we should treat others kindly and affectionately and be gentle with ourselves.
You can’t expect other people to listen to you if you don’t listen to what they have to say. There is a vehement stress on maintaining inner peace and stay calm in every situation. The poet says that in order to live a happy and meaningful life one must learn to avoid the negative people in their life and focus on a bright future ahead. The concept that the Universe has a plan for every human being and that we all contribute in some way or the other to the magnificence that this universe is, significantly directs one to start believing. We all face hardships in life. It is an inevitable part of our life but the poem motivates us to smile through the hardships and build ourselves in such a way that we become strong enough to deal with any misfortune and keep striving towards happiness. He expects people to be the most real version of themselves.
The poet tries to change the way people look at failures and drudgery. Through this poem Desiderata, the poet wishes to give people the happy pills so that they can lead a happy and fruitful life.
2. Belief in one’s own self– Throughout the poem Desiderata, stress is laid on the acceptance of one’s self for what he/she is. Once you start believing in yourself and learn to appreciate your own self and be gentle with yourself, the world would become a much easier place to live in. The poet asks the readers not to compare themselves with others. He says that we must be content with what you are and we must not measure our own worth on the basis of someone else’s terms. There will always be people who are smarter than you, more talented than you. There will also be people who are less successful than you. One must stop paying heed to what others do and focus on your inner self and aim to fulfill your long-term goals.
Once we start believing in ourselves, we will be able to understand that the universe unfolds in its own way. We are all a part of this magnificent universe and in the end, everything works out fine. It’s all part of a plan. One must maintain positivity and peace within himself. Positivity within oneself plays a vital role in shaping the kind of life a person is going to lead. Instead of comparing ourselves with others, we must enjoy our achievements and yet look forward to a better tomorrow. You should not let stressful thoughts of fear, loneliness, and fatigue overpower our happiness. We should accept ourselves for the kind of person we are and try to improve ourselves without imitating or pretending to the someone we are not. The poet urges the readers to maintain their mental, emotional and spiritual peace and not to make a pretense of love and affection. We should always try to be cheerful and happy and face every difficulty in life with a smile of our faces.
Desiderata Poem Central Idea-
Max Ehrmann in his motivational poem “Desiderata” attempts to offer a positive outlook towards life. The world is often seen to be full of chaos, fraud, hypocrisy, loneliness, misery, and drabness. Through this poem, Max Ehrmann tries to inspire people to change their perception of the world as a cruel place and appreciate the beauty of it. He advises his readers to follow certain guidelines that would help them to lead a happy and fruitful life ahead. He asks them to believe in themselves and be content with the kind of person they are. It is crucial to maintain peace within oneself and remain cheerful under adverse circumstances as well. “Desiderata” offers a simple set of values, ethics, and morals which are capable of making life much happier, peaceful and meaningful.