THE SPIRIT OF UNDERSTANDING: ENGLISH LITERATURE IN AN AGE OF CONFUSION

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Desiderata Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

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The Tone of "Desiderata" Desiderata is a didactic ie. The third and fourth stanzas each have six lines There is no pattern to the length of the lines There is no rhyme within or at the end of the lines There is not a conventional rhythm to the lines - the rhythm is conversational but not the iambic pentameter that is said to relate most closely to the normal rhythm of speech.

The Features of "Desiderata" That Qualify it as a Poem There is a liberal sprinkling of the coordinating conjunction and in Desiderata. For example, line one suggests that it is equally important to be placid and to find peace in silence. The three adverbs in the first stanza - placidly, quietly, clearly - provide end rhymes and emphasise the calm tone of the poem. Note the repeated uses of the words your, yourself, and you. One or more of them appear in each stanza, emphasizing the personal nature of the poem, which may be regarded as a direct address to the reader.

Summary and Paraphrase of the Stanzas of "Desiderata" Desiderata can be read as a blend of practical advice, moral and religious philosophy, and ethics.


  1. Old English literature;
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Stanza 1 Advice to remain calm amongst the bustle of everyday life and to practice silence. Stanza 2 Avoid people who are loud and aggressive, as they may upset your equilibrium. Stanza 3 Whatever your occupation, treasure it and do your best, as it is better to be employed, however humble the work might be, than to be unemployed. Stanza 4 Don't pretend to be the type of person that you are not, or to have feelings that you do not have. Stanza 5 Don't be overly self-critical. Stanza 6 Accept of the reality of God, or a greater power than human, whatever you imagine 'Him' to be.

Literature of Complaint

Question: What is Desiderata all about? Answer: Desiderata is, fundamentally, advice about how to live a happy and contented life. Helpful Answer: The word "desiderata" is Latin. Question: Of what significance is the perennial grass mentioned in the fourth stanza of the poem "Desiderata"? Answer: The reference to grass uses the literary device of simile drawing comparisons to show similarities between different things. Question: In what ways did Ehrmann take a formalistic approach to Desiderata? Answer: Desiderata is written as a prose poem. Question: In the poem "Desiderata", does the phrase "perennial as the grass" simply mean that it comes and goes?

An Analysis of "Desiderata" (1927), a Prose Poem by Max Ehrmann

Answer: No. Question: What is the mood of the poem "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann? Answer: Max Ehrmann wrote this poem to his daughter. Question: Why is the poem by Max Ehrmann called Desiderata?

Some Literary Criticism quotes

Answer: Check my article, where you will find a translation of the Latin word, Desiderata. Answer: Max Ehrman wrote Desiderata with his daughter at the forefront of his mind but the poem contains advice that can be used to advantage by everyone. Sign In Join. Connect with us. This website uses cookies As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things.

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History of English literature chapter 5 the revival of learning (1400-1550) in hindi (1/2)

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Introduction to the Analysis of "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann

The causes of the shift are still highly debated, although an important factor may have been the very fact of the large intake of loanwords from the Romance languages of Europe during this time, which required a different kind of pronunciation. It was, however, a peculiarly English phenomenon, and contemporary and neighbouring languages like French, German and Spanish were entirely unaffected. It affected words of both native ancestry as well as borrowings from French and Latin. In Middle English for instance in the time of Chaucer , the long vowels were generally pronounced very much like the Latin-derived Romance languages of Europe e.

After the Great Vowel Shift, the pronunciations of these and similar words would have been much more like they are spoken today. The Shift comprises a series of connected changes, with changes in one vowel pushing another to change in order to "keep its distance", although there is some dispute as to the order of these movements. The changes also proceeded at different times and speeds in different parts of the country. The Great Vowel Shift gave rise to many of the oddities of English pronunciation, and now obscures the relationships between many English words and their foreign counterparts.

The spellings of some words changed to reflect the change in pronunciation e.

In some cases, two separate forms with different meaning continued e. Many other consonants ceased to be pronounced at all e. The English of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the late 16th and early 17th Century, on the other hand, would be accented, but quite understandable, and it has much more in common with our language today than it does with the language of Chaucer.

The additions to English vocabulary during this period were deliberate borrowings, and not the result of any invasion or influx of new nationalities or any top-down decrees. Latin and to a lesser extent Greek and French was still very much considered the language of education and scholarship at this time, and the great enthusiasm for the classical languages during the English Renaissance brought thousands of new words into the language, peaking around A huge number of classical works were being translated into English during the 16th Century, and many new terms were introduced where a satisfactory English equivalent did not exist.

Words from Latin or Greek often via Latin were imported wholesale during this period, either intact e. Sometimes, Latin-based adjectives were introduced to plug "lexical gaps" where no adjective was available for an existing Germanic noun e.

An Analysis of "Desiderata" (1927), a Prose Poem by Max Ehrmann

Examples of inkhorn terms include revoluting , ingent , devulgate , attemptate , obtestate , fatigate , deruncinate , subsecive , nidulate , abstergify , arreption , suppeditate , eximious , illecebrous , cohibit , dispraise and other such inventions. Sydney Smith was one writer of the period with a particular penchant for such inkhorn terms, including gems like frugiverous , mastigophorus , plumigerous , suspirous , anserous and fugacious , The so-called Inkhorn Controversy was the first of several such ongoing arguments over language use which began to erupt in the salons of England and, later, America.

Among those strongly in favour of the use of such "foreign" terms in English were Thomas Elyot and George Pettie; just as strongly opposed were Thomas Wilson and John Cheke. However, it is interesting to note that some words initially branded as inkhorn terms have stayed in the language and now remain in common use e.

An indication of the arbitrariness of this process is that impede survived while its opposite, expede , did not; commit and transmit were allowed to continue, while demit was not; and disabuse and disagree survived, while disaccustom and disacquaint , which were coined around the same time, did not. It is also sobering to realize that some of the greatest writers in the language have suffered from the same vagaries of fashion and fate. There was even a self-conscious reaction to this perceived foreign incursion into the English language, and some writers tried to deliberately resurrect older English words e.

Most of these were also short-lived. John Cheke even made a valiant attempt to translate the entire "New Testament" using only native English words. However, this perhaps laudable attempt to bring logic and reason into the apparent chaos of the language has actually had the effect of just adding to the chaos.

Whichever side of the debate one favours, however, it is fair to say that, by the end of the 16th Century, English had finally become widely accepted as a language of learning, equal if not superior to the classical languages. Vernacular language, once scorned as suitable for popular literature and little else - and still criticized throughout much of Europe as crude, limited and immature - had become recognized for its inherent qualities. As mass-produced books became cheaper and more commonly available, literacy mushroomed, and soon works in English became even more popular than books in Latin.

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