Long ago in China, in a magnificent palace surrounded by trees, lived a Mandarin, his daughter, Koong-shee, and his secretary, Chang. Chang and Koong-shee fell in love, but Chang was a commoner and she the daughter of a noble. Still their love grew as they met beneath a willow tree in the garden. When the Mandarin discovered their secret, he banished Chang & imprisoned Koong-shee by encircling the palace with a zig-zag fence. Then he promised her hand to a another. He had a feast to celebrate and after, when all fell asleep, Chang crept into the palace and fled with Koong-shee, The Mandarin awoke & pursued them across the little bridge that spans the river.
The lovers escaped, but soon the Mandarin discovered them and sent his men to find the couple. They came upon Chang as he was working his fields and killed him. Koong-shee, who had seen the entire scene from afar, rushed into the pavilion and set it afire, determined to be with Chang in death as she had been in life.
The gods, looking down on the tragedy, took pity on the lovers & transformed their souls into a pair of immortal lovebirds to forever live in the pagoda. We can still see Chang & Koong-shee, flying over the willow tree where they first pledged their love. Their story lives forever on the Willow-pattern.
This story was first told in poems of traveling story tellers. In the early 1800ís the famous English ceramic manufacturers Spode decided to depict the pattern on some chinaware. It was an overnight sensation and over the years hundreds of firms copied the pattern. Today avid collectors will pay thousands of dollars to own the early or famous examples of the blue willow.
- Go placidly amid the noise and 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 ignorant; they too have their story.
- Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations 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's 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 disenchantement, 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.
"Desiderata" was written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945).