What is the message being delivered through these lines in "Desiderata" by the poet Max Ehrmann?

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.

I guess the first line means that do not pretend to love someone. And I think the second the second line means that one should never doubt someone's love for them.


3 Answers 3


You are correct about the first line.

Rather than "never doubt", I'd read the second line more as "don't believe that love is impossible". The second couplet supports that: while there are many disappointments, and you may feel that you will never find love, it is "perennial"; that is, it keeps returning.

The first line of the stanza is "be yourself". In the context of the rest that you quoted, I'd interpret it as "Seek out love as you wish to, but be honest about doing so, rather than lying about it if it's not there or by concluding that it can never be there".

It's a little over-optimistic and simplistic for my taste, but the poem is very popular and clearly rings true for many people.


Be honest of your feelings, don’t disguise or be distrustful even in loneliness nor horrible experience love is evergreen an will always be around.

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    Hi! Could you elaborate on this answer? There's very little explanation or commentary behind this. Perhaps you can analyze the lines? May 5, 2020 at 2:45

Personally I think there is more to it than the obvious 'don't use love to manipulate'. I think it means don't pretend to be what you are not in all areas of life not just in romantic relations...talking the talk but not walking the walk.

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    Welcome to the site! Can you justify this reading from the poem itself? Answers work best when they're supported by facts or references rather than just opinions.
    – Rand al'Thor
    May 27, 2019 at 11:12

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