Tasha Tuesday- The Desiderata

Hello and good morning, friends- and a happy Tasha Tuesday to you!

This morning I thought I’d share a bit about something that inspires me, and also inspired Tasha Tudor– The Desiderata. A few years back, I was able to go on one of the Corgi Cottage home and garden tours offered by the Tudor Family. (You can read more about that HERE) we first explored the sunny dappled flowers of Tasha’s beautiful Vermont garden, and then later went into the dark and cozy warren of her little handbuilt house.

You may be surprised to know that off to the side of the old fashioned kitchen Tasha was so often photographed in, is a small room fitted out with modest but very modern appliances. In this little lean-to room Tasha had a stove and a refrigerator. On her refrigerator Tasha had pinned various photos, illustrations and poems she enjoyed— and one of them was the poem “Desiderata.”

Tasha working in her goat barn, photographed by Richard Brown and appearing in his book “The Private World of Tasha Tudor.”

Written by American writer Max Ehrmann in the early 1920s. The title “Desiderata” means “things that are desired” and was written by Ehrmann “because it counsels those virtues I feel most in need of.” The poem reads:

Desiderata

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and 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 and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and 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 and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and 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 and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

By Max Ehrmann © 1927

Tasha kept a copy of The Desiderata taped to her refrigerator in her kitchen. Its pictured here in the Japanese book “Tasha Tudor’s Delightful House.”

The Desiderata would have been written when Tasha was a child, and in 1933 the author shared it in a Christmas card. The poem slowly began to be shared in following years, and by the time of WWII was being shared with church congregations and distributed to soldiers fighting overseas. It saw a resurgence of popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, and somewhere in those years it caught Tasha’s eye and was dear enough to her that she displayed it in her home in a place where she could see it every day.

Reading the word’s of Ehrmann’s poems, I can see clearly that Tasha truly lived by them. She lived, for the most part, a quiet life in a world made up of her own creation, interests and dreams. She worked steadily and without hurry (in old age she would declare “I don’t believe in hurry!”) and took great pleasure in simple home pursuits. In many ways, that simpleness and steadfastness is what makes her so appealing— and perhaps as we take our inspiration from her, she took her inspiration from The Desiderata.

Nell Dorr (1893-1988); Woman at Kitchen Sink; ca. 1940; Gelatin silver print; Amon Carter Museum of American Art; Fort Worth, Texas; Bequest of Nell Dorr; P1990.45.45

Above: Tasha Tudor photographed at home by her good friend and photographer, Nell Dorr

And as we come to the end of autumn days and settle into winter, I hope you take inspiration from these wonderful words as well. Ehrmann did not live to see his work become so beloved, yet it continues to inspire– just as Tasha Tudor does.

I also wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, even if it is a more simple at-home affair this year. Sometimes simple and small is even more lovely. And I hope you too take comfort in this wonderful poem, which still rings true nearly a century after it was written.

And most of all– Take Joy!
H

6 thoughts on “Tasha Tuesday- The Desiderata

  1. The Desiderata has special meaning in my family, as it was my stepfather’s favorite poem. He gave his grandchildren framed copies when they graduated from university. At his funeral last December, my nephew read it out loud. It was also printed on his prayer cards. My nephew also has parts of it tattooed on his arm, in memory of his grandfather. It is a very special poem, and it made me happy when I saw it taped onto Tasha’s refrigerator in her little kitchen during the tours I have been on to her home. Lovely words to live by.

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  2. This story about Tasha is warming and comforting. I was in college when this poem made it into the mainstream in all sorts of stores. It was beautiful and in those” Flower Power” Days, it was embraced in college dorms everywhere. What a perfect poem to embrace again in today’s turbulent landscape, and what a perfect prayer for the Thanksgiving Table.

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  3. Do you know where that book can be found? I’ve never seen the picture of Tasha’s fridge, now I’m intrigued. ☺

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