Despite the mystery surrounding its origin, it has spoken to our souls in this time. We now have it in a place of quiet reflection. A carved out space for quiet times, meditation, and rest.
Originally written by Max Ehrmann in 1927, it became a widely distributed poster in the 1960s and 1970s. Our copy is likely one of these and it carries an inscription "Found in Old Saint Paul's Church, Dated 1692." This label has caused a bit of confusion. In 1959 or 1960, the rector of Saint Paul's Church included the poem in a compilation of devotional materials for the congregation. It carried the date of the foundation of the church, not the date of the writing of the poem.
Regardless, it has spoken a bit of wisdom to us in these uncertain times and I pray it does the same for you. Emphasis is mine where added.
"Go placidly amid the noise & haste, & 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 & clearly; and listen to others, even the dull & ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud & aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain & bitter; for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested 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 & disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nature strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & 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 & aspirations, in the noisy confusion fo life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy."
Max Ehrmann, 1927