This Zen Comic Is Full of Timeless Life Lessons

Desiderata poem by Max Ehrmann beautifully illustrated by Gavin Aung Than
By Gavin Aung Than / zenpencils.com
Jul 2, 2015
19

Desiderata (Latin for ‘things to be desired’) is a famous poem with a complicated history. Max Ehrmann (1872-1945), a lawyer and poet from Indiana, wrote the poem sometime in the 1920s and distributed it locally, although it never received any widespread attention. However in the 1950s, the Reverend of St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore printed the poem in a collection of devotional pieces for his congregation with a notation stating “Old St. Pauls Church, Baltimore A.C. 1692.”

As the booklet got distributed more and more over the years, it led to people believing the poem originated with the church and was hundreds of years old, despite the modern style of writing. The wrong credit gained more credibility after the death of American politician Adlai Stevenson in 1965. A copy of Desiderata was found on his bedside table, putting the poem in the spotlight again, but of course it had the incorrect St. Paul’s attribution. It went on to be hugely popular in the late 60s and early 70s among the counter-culture generation. So if you see the poem around with the wrong credit, make sure to give props to Max Ehrmann.

I adapted Desiderata as a result of a contest my book publisher, Andrews McMeel, held at the recent Book Expo of America. Visitors were asked to vote for their favourite poem out of three choices, with the winner being adapted into a Zen Pencils comic. I submitted three of the most-requested poems I get sent to me: Desiderata, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night and Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep. I hadn’t got around to adapting any of them because I had put them in the “too hard” basket. The contest forced me to figure one of them out at least, and I’m glad I finally did. Thanks to everyone who voted and thanks to all of you who’ve sent me this poem.

Trending Videos
Systemic Racism
Articles by Tim Hjersted, Co-Founder of Films For Action
Videos by Second Thought
Featured Documentaries

Films For Action is a library for people who want to change the world.

 

Our mission is to provide citizens with the knowledge and perspectives essential to creating a more beautiful, just, sustainable, and democratic society.

Films For Action was founded in 2006 by a few friends in Lawrence, Kansas, after realizing how essential healthy media is to a healthy democracy.

Over the last 15 years, we've reviewed and curated over 1,000 free documentaries and 4,000 short films, plus over 150 pay-per-view documentaries, spanning 34 topics related to changing the world.

During this time we've been able to reach tens of millions of people - not by owning a TV network or spending truckloads of cash on advertising, but because millions of awesome people keep sharing 'films for action' with their friends on social media - in particular, our 850,000 supporters on Facebook and 70,000 site members. 

One of the coolest things is, thanks to our patrons, our library is ad-free and 100% supported by member donations, while 99% of our library is free to access and always will be. The pay-per-view films on our site, of course, help support the filmmakers, and 90-100% of the revenue for PPV films hosted by us goes to the filmmakers. 

To thank our $5/mo patrons, we partner with filmmakers and distributors to provide access to a growing number of films that are normally pay-per-view. With just 23 highly curated films at the moment, it's basically a mini "Netflix for world changers," but its main function is to support the library as a whole.

If you'd like to know more, want to help out, or you're a filmmaker or distributor looking to collaborate, feel free to get in touch!

Cheers,  
Tim Hjersted
Co-Founder & Director
Lawrence, KS