"Un Sourire" (Bilingual poem that will make you smile :-)
To take off, to get off the ground. Can you say this in French?

Desiderata Poem in French and English: Lifechanging Words


Our 16-year-old set out, yesterday, on a 24-hr voyage. Alone, she flew from Nice to London, then London to Dallas, and on to Denver. Unsure of what to say to my daughter before she left, I slipped the following poem into her travel bag. Photo taken at the Vieux Port in Marseilles, on break from her internship at a couturier's. 

 "D E S I D E R A T A" by Max Ehrmann

Allez tranquillement parmi le vacarme et la hâte
Go placidly amid the noise and haste

Et souvenez-vous de la paix qui peut exister dans le silence
Remember what peace there may be in silence

Sans aliénation, vivre autant que possible en bons termes avec toutes personnes
As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons

Dîtes doucement et clairement votre vérité; et écoutez les autres, même le simple d'esprit et l'ignorant, ils ont eux aussi leur histoire.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Évitez les individus bruyants et agressifs, ils sont une vexation pour l'esprit.
Avoid loud and agressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

Ne vous comparez avec personne : vous risqueriez de devenir vain ou vaniteux.
If you compare yourselves with others, you may become vain and bitter.

Il y a toujours plus grand et plus petit que vous.
For there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.


                                           "Trampoline" photo of Jackie taken in 2011

Jouissez de vos projets aussi bien que de vos accomplissements.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Soyez toujours intéressé à votre carrière, si modeste soit-elle
Keep interested in your own career, however humble

C'est un véritable atout dans les prospérités changeantes du temps
It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Soyez prudent dans vos affaires car le monde est plein de ruses
Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery

Mais ne soyez pas aveugle en ce qui concerne la vertu qui existe ;
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

Plusieurs individus recherchent les grands idéaux ;
Many persons strive for high ideals;

Et partout la vie est remplie d'héroïsme.
And everywhere life is full of heroism

Soyez vous-même. Surtout n'affectez pas l'amitié.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection.

Non plus ne soyez cynique en amour
Neither be cynical about love

Car il est en face de toute stérilité et de tout désenchantement aussi éternel que l'herbe
For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass


Prenez avec bonté le conseil des années,
Take kindly to the counsel of the years

En renonçant avec grâce à votre jeunesse.
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth

Fortifiez une puissance d'esprit pour vous protéger en cas de malheur
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune

Mais ne vous chagrinez pas avec vos chimères.
But do not distress yourself with imaginings

De nombreuses peurs naissent de la fatigue et de la solitude.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness

Au delà d'une discipline saine, soyez doux avec vous-même
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself

                               Jackie, 7 years old.

Vous êtes un enfant de l'univers, pas moins que les arbres et les étoiles;
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;

Vous avez le droit d'etre ici.
You have a right to be here.

Et qu'il vous soit clair ou non, l'univers se déroule sans doute comme il le devrait
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

La Ciotat 8.16.03 047

                                  With my daughter, 5 years-old then...

Soyez en paix avec Dieu, quelle que soit votre conception de lui
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be

Quels que soient vos travaux et vos rêves,
Whatever your labors and aspirations

Gardez, dans le désarroi bruyant de la vie, la paix de votre âme.
In the noisy confusion of life, keep at peace with your soul

Avec toutes ses perfidies, ses besognes fastidieuses et ses rêves brisés,
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams

Le monde est pourtant beau ;
It is still a beautiful world;

Prenez attention.
Be cheerful.

Tâchez d'être heureux.
Strive to be happy.




Jackie riding a donkey in Southwest France

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Hi Honey,

This is a precious post for remembrance of Jackie's first official career/study/adventure into the furture.

I love the second photo of Jackie's trampoline days at Domaine Rouge-Bleu.



Eileen deCamp

Vendredi Hereux! Kristin…I LOVE this post! The photos of Jackie are precious and the one of her looking up at you is just the sweetest! Wow, the poem really spoke to me! I will have to look for a copy to frame!

Karen from Towson, Md

Always a favorite poem of mine, it's so helpful to see it in French.

We just sent our 21 year old off to Venice on her own. These are such lovely thoughts for our grown children to keep close at hand. It helps to keep our actions, thoughts and hearts balanced.

We hope Jackie doesn't surrender too much of her youth yet but we wish her all the best as she enjoys her achievements and follows her plans and passions both around the globe, close to home and into adulthood.

Brenda Prowse

Thank you Kristin. I am now motivated to memorize this poem in French! My teacher will hopefully be impressed! The photos of your daughter are so sweet. By the way, I met your friend Ann Mah at an event sponsored by La Cuisine in Paris. It was a most delightful afternoon spent with her. Ann speaks very highly of you. It is a high point of my life to have met each of you. Bon Fête de la Musique!


What a beautiful poem-thank you for sharing it!!

Frieda Oxenham

I wish my mother had gifted me this when I left , now many, many years ago!


Thank you for the poem. Re the identity of the poet, you may wish to check this out:


Nancy Stilwagen

Wonderful words! I wish her bon voyage!


They do grow up in a heartbeat. Thank you for the lovely poem,

Sue J.

lovely post, Kristi. travel safe, Jackie.


A favorite poem - written by Max Ehrmann, 1927. Wonderful post.

John Hawke

Every Daughter should be so fortunate to have such a loving Mom!

Chris Burke

Thank you for the poem. I am printing it out for my daughter to give to her today at her 34th birthday gathering. I will use it again, following your beautiful photo example, for her at a later date.
The poem is by Max Ehrman 1927.


Beautiful words of wisdom and love. Such a wonderful gift of wings you give your daughter. I know that is not always easy!


What a beautiful and inspirational poem. Something I really needed this morning. Thank you for sharing!!


Bonjour Kristin,

It is not easy to let the bird out of the nest and yet you managed to do it in a way that she will never forget.

A few weeks you posted a photo of your mom and asked for comments about what she might be thinking about. Perhaps your mom was thinking about your life and all the stages of your childhood? Or perhaps she was wondering how you learned to open a bottle of wine with a book?

Speaking of books, when is your next one going to be published? I can't wait to read it.


Dennis D
Sebastopol, CA

Barbara Andolsek

This has been one of my all time favorites since the moment I first read it. So much so that one of my lovely daughters embroidered every word and framed it - just for me. It resides in my studio where I am reminded of its wisdom. Mother and daughter relationships are so precious. Hugs Kristin!

June Shenton Turner

Our daughters are so very special aren't they.
Our sons too, in a different way.
But to see them setting forth on the adventure of life is something we never forget (and my
children are now in their fifties!)
With love to all the family June Shenton Turner


Hi Kristin, Max Ehrmann's Desiderata is one of my all time favorite poems - for anyone ... at any age. Inspirational for everyone!
A bientot ...

Ally Davis

Wonderful words!

Michael G.

It is not true that the author of the Desiderata is unknown. For a time, it was atributed to an anonymous 17th-century author, but it is clear now that it is the work of an Indiana businessman, named above, Max Ehrmann:


edie schmidt


Tres bien!
I hope your daughter has a wonderful trip.
Loved the photos too.

Edie from Savannah

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

One of my favorite poems ever. So glad you're sharing it with such a big audience.

Best of luck to Jackie!

gwyn ganjeau

boy, kristin, i needed this today. it's been a heavy couple of weeks and this buoyed my heart and spirit. my day has just been changed. i am reminded to 'smile at the horizon.'

thank you.

Jan in Colorado

Our weather on the Front Range of Colorado is beautiful right now! I'm hoping Jackie has the opportunity to visit many places in our gorgeous state. How long will she be here? Is she visiting someone? If she'd like to play tourist in the Colorado Springs area and see Pikes Peak, the AF Academy, the Garden of the Gods, etc., I'd be happy to arrange to bring her down. Just say the word! BTW, it's been years since I read the Desiderata and I thank you for the opportunity to experience it in French.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Years for me, too (reading the Desiderata). Thanks for this...in both languages. You speak to many hearts often.

Joanne Polner

The poem contains good words to live by.
Thank you for sharing!

It was very poignant to follow your photograph series that brought us back to the near close of your daughter's baby years at the age of two. Now, with her dedicated flight to the USA, she has left her childhood altogether and has flown into her adulthood--as in your amazing photograph in which she appears to swim in the sky!

PS. After the poem and after the picture of Jackie at age two, there is a sentence that ends with "somebody." In the second sentence, there is a common error of English grammar using the word "them." The word "somebody" means only one person and is not replaceable by the pronoun "them. For the most correct English language writing, it is better to write that we might share the poem with "some other people" (meaning more than one person, of course). Then, the "them" is grammatically correct.
Joanne Polner, New Jersey

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

I love the poem, and the lovely photos of Jackie. I wish her many happy adventures!

Thank you Kristin for the great post.

Be well!


This is SO BEAUTIFUL, Kristen!!!! You are a very lucky mom!!!

Sheryl Moll

One of my favorite poems since I first read it in high school in the 1970's. Merci mille fois for sharing it in French.


I loved it in French. Will pray for your Jackie.
Why do you/they translate toward the end 'Prenez Attention' as Be cheerful?

I loved best of all that 5 yr old face looking up at you. My oldest grandchild turns 5 on Monday...what a beautiful time of trust and love.

Maria in Western NC


Our dear Kristi,
The only thing more beautiful than the poem and photographs is gorgeous Jackie.
We share your pride(and joy!) at this gifted young lady;we also applaud you and JM for giving her wings to follow her dreams.
May God bless all of you
Natalia XO

Jennifer Allen

That was truly the most beautiful poem to have given your daughter. I am going to reprint it and send it to mine when she heads off to her first month long camp experience. Although my 15 year old is only returning to the camp that she has gone to since she was 8, this will be the longest she will have ever been away.

All the best to your heart as you let your daughter go into her new adventure. And thank you for your candour and beautiful stories about all the sights, experiences and people in your life.



Thank you for sharing this poem. The timing couldn't be more right. I remember this poem from middle school and I kept a record of it. I haven't read it in a while. Just last week, in need of inspiration, I was searching for it for hours only to come up empty. This was such a surprise to find this post in my inbox today. Thank you :)

I wish your daughter the best on her adventure!

Missing France here in So Cal,

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

So beautifully touching, what a wonderful momma you are! XOXO

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Did you translate the poem yourself?
Its words are here and there different from the translation to French at the link that hamtab provided.

What great things are in Denver? For her career aspirations, or a visit to her American relatives? Such a long trip -- less money I suppose than the direct flights I so much prefer to many changes of plane. But it is a lot like the itinerary of my younger brother and his wife a couple of years ago on their trip to meet their daughter, who had completed her term of college abroad, at Compiègnes. They met, successfully, in Vienna, to take the train back in to France. Only that daughter, so determined to study abroad one term, could pull my brother across the Atlantic, I am sure.

Karen from Phoenix

What a beautiful poem to send along with Jackie. It is so hard to let them go and have adventures. She is so lucky to have you and Jean-Marc who embrace her and Max with your heart and soul.


Beverley Rouede

For there "will" always be . . .

Words are somewhat different in the version I have, but I love it! Thanks for the translation!

Susan Souza

Thank you for the beautiful poem and how brave you and your daughter are. I am sure she will have a wonderful time.


This is a delightful post..and such tender and wonderful advice. Lovely words shared by a loving mother..
Best wishes to you all. Hugs..

Christine Dashper

Beautiful, Kristin. So bittersweet sending our precious ones off into the world. Thinking of you



I love this poem and bought it as a little book many years ago.They are little words of wisdom that seem to keep arriving at just the right moments. I think it is fitting for whatever stage of life you are at.

I would like to wish Jackie all the best on her adventures and know she will have a wonderful time. I also send a little hug to both Mum and Dad as it is hard to stand back with mixed feelings and let your babies fly for the first time! My son earlier this week enlisted into the army and off for his initial training so I know exactly how you feel!

Another quirky version of similar thoughts behind this poem that would resonate with kids is Baz Luhrmann's "Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)"...just for a bit of fun! xx


Adeline Richarson Reunion Island

Magnifique poème, merci beaucoup pour ce partage.
A precious gift from a loving Mom to her grown-up daughter. Time for her to leave the nest now.. You showed her the way and I'm sure she will keep the poem to give it to her own daughter or son one day. She will say 'here's one of the most precious gift I was ever given by Grandma, I hand it over to you it's a proof of love'.

Gordon R. Vaughan

Our kids are traveling a lot this year. After 3 going to Europe, now our 17yo son is leaving for China/Tibet tomorrow night. It's always a strange combination of excitement for them, combined with a twinge of anxiety at some point a few days before they leave, when it all comes together and you realize it's really going to happen!

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Kristi, this lovely poem is so appropriate for your fledgling Jackie, and is inspirational for most all of us. Thank you for that and the spectacular photos!!!


You are simply awesome!
How about the French translation of Baz Luhrman's "Wear Sunscreen".
Merci mille!


I had forgotten just how beautiful and meaningful (for anyone of any age!) this poem is. Thank you for reminding me. It gives me a great idea for a special gift - have someone with beautiful penmanship (I don't!)write it out, frame it and give it for a special occasion. In fact, I think I'll do this for each of my 4 grandchildren and give it to each one for his/her 16th birthday.
Thanks ever so much!

R: Brosinoz

ça me donne la nausée!

Pat Sorensen

Thanks for posting this poem - I had forgotten how much it speaks to me. Can't wait to share it with my 19 year old daughter! She just arrived home today after spending a year in Germany and traveling throughout Europe. So I can fully appreciate how difficult yet how necessary it is to let our little birdies test their wings. You are excited for them and happy they have this wonderful opportunity, but that does not fill the emptiness that envelops your house when they are gone. I know she will have an incredible time and discover so much about herself during this experience. Hopefully it will strengthen your bond and help her appreciate her mother more. And it will help prepare maman for the day - coming too soon! - that her birdie leaves the nest for good to make her way in the world. This is one of the hardest things you will ever do, so this practice will help prepare you.

Et qu'il vous soit clair ou non, l'univers se déroule sans doute comme il le devrait.

You will be in my thoughts over the coming month as, even though we have never met, I can truly appreciate what you are going through. Hugs and happy thoughts from the USA!


Passing this along to my daughter who just celebrated one year of sobriety. Merci!

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

This takes my breath away - so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Karla Ober

Hi Kristin! Thank you so much for posting this in French! I thought you might profit from this wikipedia entry:
“Desiderata” History

"Desiderata" (Latin: "desired things") is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann. Largely unknown in the author's lifetime, the text became widely known after its use in a devotional and after spoken-word recordings in 1971 and 1972.

American writer Max Ehrmann (1872–1945) wrote the prose poem "Desiderata" in 1927. In 1956, the Reverend Frederick Kates, rector of Saint Paul's Church in Baltimore, Maryland, included Desiderata in a compilation of devotional materials for his congregation. The compilation included the church's foundation date: "Old Saint Paul's Church, Baltimore A.D. 1692." Consequently, the date of the text's authorship was (and still is) widely mistaken as 1692, the year of the church's foundation.

Dana Wilson

I will pass on Mr. Ehrmann's Desiderata to my grandchildren as they begin their own adult lives and face their own deamons.

The French translation is first-rate. Thanks to Karla for the reference to Wikipedia, Adlai Stevenson and all.

The photo of you and Jackie is Jackie is angelic.

My heartfelt wishes to Karen and her daughter; every day is a new challenge. They are not alone.

Katherine Maxwell

Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful poem. The photos of your daughter through the years are beautiful.


One of my all time favorites. Merci!

Jeanne Martinelli Engelkemeir

This is just BEAUTIFUL! The photos of Jackie and the words -- wow.

Just formidable! Merci mille fois!!

xoxo :) Jeanne


Hi Kristin,

Thank you for sharing your pictures of your daughter. I have a 22 year old daughter now, and the pictures of her younger years bring me such happiness and fond memories. I can feel the same joy looking at your pictures here.

When bad things happen, I run to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. C'est tout!


Vivian Langley

Kristin,merci. The pictures of Jacki and you are super. I loved the poem.

Diane Young

Greater love has a parent than to allow their child to spread her wings and fly. Bless you for being such a mother. Jacki is very lucky to have you and Jean-Marc for her parents.



We love your writing and beautiful photographs. I passed Desiderate along to my daughter too. She's older than you are now. Time flies!

Anyway, I had an entrepreneurial idea that might fit into your business model. I mentioned it to my wife and she brightened and said, "Perfect!". No catches. I think there's a market niche that you could fill, and could have fun at it. You already have a clientele.

You have my email address. Send me yours and I'll be be more specific. OMG this sounds so like a seedy get-rich scheme. None of that. I would be your fist customer.

Warmest, Dana Wilson/Salt Lake City

julie camp

Someone else mentioned this typo differently:
Il y a toujours plus grand et plus petit que vous.
For there with always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

with or will? -j-

Alice Cole

Thanks for all your words about this profound tragedy,including the prose poem with translation. There's some BBC footage of a woman hanging from a window to avoid the attackers, which is horrific, except when the danger had passed, another woman who climbed in the window before her, stopped and helped her to get in. It made me cry to see someone stop, putting herself at risk, to help another person. The world is still filled with simple acts of heroism.

Alice Cole/Colorado Springs CO USA

Nancy Paull

This was my mother's favorite poem, and really her guidepost for life. She taped a copy inside a kitchen cabinet, and read it often, sometimes to calm herself. When she died, at 97, I read it at her funeral.

June Turner

from June Turner : Hi Kristen - great column. Have known Desiderata almost off by heart for many years and it still comes to my aid at times! Just one typo - achievement is typed acheivement. All good. All enjoyable. Goodnight. Sweet dreams.


Thank you Kristi for a lovely post. I particularly enjoyed the angelic photo of Jackie aged 5, the tale of the hairspray revenge and the thoughts in the poem. I think it was an excellent idea to send Jackie off with a poem. I do hope she has a safe and wonderful trip. I'd also recommend to fellow readers http://www.cavafy.com/poems/content.asp?cat=1&id=74 If my link fails, which I fear it will, then it's the poem entitled Ithaca by the Greek poet Cavafy (easily found on Google and very very beautiful).

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