Demola Rewaju: Attitude! The second wisest poem ever written

by Demola Rewaju

Attitude-imageP

For me, the wisest poem ever written is that Yoruba poem titled ‘Ise L’Oogun Ise’ written by J.F. Odunjo. I might just publish it sometime this week and add an English translation and transliteration.

I first came across this lovely piece that is called a prose-poem about eleven years ago and ever since then, it’s been a constant companion for my meditation. It is the summation of one man’s observance of life and how to live it. I mentioned it to someone over the last weekend and he had never heard of it so I decided to post it here and hope it inspires you as it has done for me.

The title is the plural of desideratum which comes from a Latin word and it means the things that people look for or the things that people need. Commonly thought to have been found in a church, (“Old Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore A.D. 1692) and written in 1692, it was actually written as recently as 1927 by Max Ehrmann, an American.
Desiderata

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 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.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your 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.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical 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 imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with 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.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

For me, the wisest poem ever written is that Yoruba poem titled ‘Ise L’Oogun Ise’ written by J.F. Odunjo. I might just publish it sometime this week and add an English translation and transliteration.

Have a splendid week, no matter what.

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