Table of Contents

Desiderata The Book has a preface by me and a separate preface by Bob Allen followed by an introduction about Max Ehrmann and why he wrote "Desiderata" and an additional introduction discussing the confusing authorship history of the prose poem. The chapters are not numbered; rather, the phrase (or a shorter version of it) that is the subject of each chapter is the chapter title, e.g., "Remember Silence." The 24th chapter is an overall view of the work and what it means followed by an appendix explaining how a court invalidated the "Desiderata" copyright and placed the work in the public domain.

Internal Chapter Organization

Each chapter is divided into four facets.

  • The first defines, in context, the principal words used in the phrase.
  • The second interprets and amplifies the phrase in the context of being part of the life prescription.
  • The third discusses a real-world example of the phrase.
  • The fourth cites famous quotations wherein the principal words of the phrase are substantively used.

What Max Ehrmann said about "Desiderata"...

"I would like, if I could, to leave my country a humble gift, a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods. My life is spent in a time and among a people of commercial interest, with its attending selfishness, cruelty, and ostentation. I would reclaim a little of the heart of man, infuse some gentleness into the stern ethics of trade, and make life the supreme art--instead of acquisition. If, in an hour of noble elation, I could write a bit of glorified prose that would soften the stern ways of life and bring to our fevered days some courage, dignity, and poise, I should be well content."