This is one of my favorite poems. I have it on a book mark and read it often. It was written in 1920, the year my Mom was born by Max Ehrmann.
Max Ehrmann was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, on September 16, 1872. His parents were German immigrants. Ehrmann graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle in 1894, after which he studied law and philosophy at Harvard University.
Ehrmann returned to Terre Haute to practice law, following which (early 1900's) he began writing, obsessively. Max Ehrmann was known as the 'Poet Laureate' of Terre Haute.
Ehrmann wrote many poems, although none became well known until after his death. He died never knowing people eventually loved his poetry. Aside from Desiderata his most famous poem is A Prayer, written in 1906.
Max Ehrmann originally copyrighted Desiderata in 1927 as 'Go Placidly Amid The Noise And Haste'. The copyright number was 962402, dated 3rd January.
Ehrmann included Desiderata in a Christmas message to his friends in 1933, and significantly never added any copyright notice, a factor which featured strongly in legal considerations in the 1970's about Desiderata copyright (more below).
US Army psychiatrist Merill Moore wrote in 1942 to Ehrmann that he used the Desiderata poem in his therapy work, and also wrote to Ehrmann in 1944 suggesting that the poem should be bottled and sold as 'Dr Ehrmann's Magic Soul Medicine'. Communications between Moore and Ehrmann featured strongly in legal considerations in the 1970's about Desidarata copyright (more below).
Max married Bertha three months before his death in 1945. Bertha Scott King Ehrmann was from New York; she graduated from Smith College, wrote, taught, and published a book called The Worth of a Girl. Three months after Max Ehrmann's death, Bertha published four of his books.
Max Ehrmann's widow Bertha published the Desiderata poem with some other of his work in 1948, in a collection titled The Poems Of Max Ehrmann. She re-renewed the Desiderata copyright in 1948 and 1954.
Bertha Ehrmann died in 1962, upon which the copyright ownership passed to her nephew Richmond Wight. Wight later sold the copyright for an undisclosed amount to Crescendo Publishing Company in 1975.
All this information about the poem came from a site called http://www.businessballs.com/ , I am not claiming it as my own research. I just find it such a tragedy that he never knew what an impact his thoughts had on so many people.
I love the poem its my favorite...and thought I would share with some facts about the man behind it.