Thursday, July 12, 2012

Latin and Poetry

I wish I had taken Latin in school, instead I took French. Three years of French to be exact. I wish I had taken Italian too, but that was never offered in any school I ever attended.  
I love words. The written word is a beautiful and powerful thing, in any language.
I have them (words) scattered throughout my home on plaques, in frames and homemade signs.  All admonishing reminding me to "make a life while making a living" in some way or another, but I digress.
Latin is essentially the origin of all words. One Latin word, Desiderata:


  [dih-sid-uh-rey-tuh, -rah-, -zid-] 
plural nounsingular de·sid·er·a·tum.
things wanted or needed; the plural of desideratum“Happily-ever-after” and “eternal love” appear to be the desiderata of the current generation; to whom “fat chance” say those of us who are older, wiser, and more curmudgeonly. 


  [dih-sid-uh-rey-tuhm, -rah-, -zid-]  
noun, plural de·sid·er·a·ta [-tuh ]
something wanted or needed.
1645–55;  < Latin,  noun use of neuter past participle of dēsīderāre

Things to be desired. This leads me to one poem in particular that has been with me my entire life. A poem my mother shared with me as a gift on a Hallmark faux scroll years ago in my early teens. I think she might be surprised to know that I still have that pink scroll and it hangs in my room as it has hung in every room I have ever inhabited in my life. 
The words are simple. The poem poignant. The tasks, difficult.
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 to the dull and the 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 bitter or vain, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interest in your own 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 cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass...Take kindly to 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 in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
~Max Erhmann Copyright 1927