Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Max Ehrmann. Desiderata 1920; Gerperga 770 AD.

Seeking Calm and Affirmation in the Midst of Angst.

Desiderata, the Symbol in 1920,
Desiderata. the Person in 770 AD (wife of Charlemagne),
 A/k/a Gerperga

Desiderata, for today, in a time of Glocks.

    Desiderata - Gerperga
    A Poem of Calm, Reassurance, Perspective

    How does it express, as Gerperga?

    1.  The name of the poem by Max Ehrmann 1920.

    Is the name, Desiderata, a choice inadvertent, or is it the stuff of invisible hands.  Consider "Desiderata."
    • Desiderata is a poem by Max Ehrmann from 1920. 
    • A desiderata is "something for which desire is felt." From the verb form, desiderare: To long for. See ://dictionary.reference.com/etymology/desiderata/. What is longed for in the poem. Peace of mind, common humanity. 
    • Desiderata is also a historical figure, a real woman, in her own time of angst. Angst continues, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAH4klqLTXg  
      • Desiderata was a daughter of the Lombard King Desiderius.  The Lombards in Italy had been defeated in 751 by the Franks but remained a power bloc, and their lands surrounded the Papal States. 
      • Charlemagne, who co-ruled with his brother, Carloman, married Desiderata in 771.
      • This alarmed Carloman and the Pope, who feared an alliance between Charlemagne and the Lombards. 
      • In 771, however, Carloman mysteriously died, leaving Charlemagne in sole power (surprise). and Charlemagne had the year-old marriage annulled.  Why?  Why should the Pope do that?
      • Charlemagne then allied with the Pope and promised to protect the Papal lands.  Aha.  
      • Desiderata.  A woman eclipsed as a person by her spouse, Charlemagne, and her times; and used as a tool in that marriage -- to further the political goals of Charlemagne, first to set the Lombards at ease; and ultimately to conquer them;  and then to ally with the Pope with Carloman out of the way.  Did Carloman die naturally?  There is no evidence of foul play .... 
      • At the outset, Charlemagne's alliance, first between the Frankish King Charlemagne and the Germanic Lombards then in Italy (Desiderata's father, Desiderius, was King of the Lombards), excluded his co-ruler brother, Carloman; and the Pope. Those two, as powerjockeys in their own right, were worried.
      • Charlemagne was on the move, and Desiderata was out. See Charlemagne Timeline at http://faculty.cua.edu/pennington/churchhistory220/lecturetwo/timelinecharlemagne.htm  
      • The Lombards were a Germanic tribe that moved south from Sweden and over time slid into Italy.  By the 6th Century, there were there and ruling vast territories.  Lombard, Longobardi, long beards. http://www.hyw.com/books/history/Langobar.htm  
      • And without family ties to the Lombards, Charlemagne moved againast them in the Wars of 774 (father in law Desiderius's group, with perhaps Desiderata in her father's court again at the time), saving the Pope.  Charlemagne promised to continue to save the pope, and so he did. See Timeline.

    Desiderata.  She had no children, and her fate is unknown. Some say she went back to Desiderius' Court, her father. And even her name is uncertain.  It could be a scrivener's error in spelling; or other mixup. 

    Her real name may have been Gerperga.  See summary site at  http://www.geni.com/people/Desiderara-van-Langobarden/6000000006727892012

    2.    The author.

    Max Ehrmann is a lawyer and Jewish, writing in a time of gathering clouds in Europe. Unremarkable in appearance, introspective, apparently wise, even a seer perhaps. He wrote a great deal, and few know his name. Like Desiderata, Desiree, Desideria, desideriata filiam, desired daughter, Gerperga, Max Ehrmann passed into history with a shrug.

    Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, c.1920.  He lived from 1872 to 194. Class of 1894, DePauw University.  See lists of poems, essays, journals.  Biography there at http://www.depauw.edu/library/archives/dpuinventories/ehrmann_max%20.htm  A Jewish mystic. in his way?  See commentary, chronology, at http://pretendthisiseasy.blogspot.com/2006/02/desiderata-by-max-ehrmann.html/

    Instead of credit, a myth has spread that this astonishingly plain-speaking dates from the 1600's -- not so. It was published in 1920 at the beginning of that flapper era after World War I, a decade before the Great Crash, before the Third Reich would set out to kill people like him.

    3.  The Poem, As Gerperga, Revisited in her Year of Marriage to Charlemagne.

    Is there any poem more reproduced, altered as to stanzas and phrasing, on more refrigerators? 
    http://www.fleurdelis.com/desiderata.htm  Who holds the copyright?  For a fresh reading, put it in the context of the real Desiderata, but with the name Gerperga.  She seems more real that way.

    The Angst.  Desiderata in the Time of the first Desiderata, Gerperga 770-771 AD. Gerperga / Desiderata, daughter of King of Lombards in Italy, wife of Charlemagne 770. Marriage annulled by Charlemagne 771, Charlemagne 772 marches against the Saxons in northern Germany, and claims kingship over the Lombards in Italy 773, kills 4500 Saxon prisoners in 782, finally prevails over them 804, etc. What was her story, left out of his story.

    In her Year of Charlemagne

    In the Court of Charlemagne 770 AD, the One Year of her Marriage, knowing how she is used; and fearing for the Lombards, and her father, King Desiderius of the Lombards
              Gerperga goes placidly
              Amid the noise and haste
    And remembers what peace there may be
    In silence,

    As far as possible, without surrender,
    She aspires to good terms with all persons.

    She speaks her truth quietly
    And clearly;
    And listens to others,
    Even to the dull and the ignorant,
    They too have their story.

    She avoids loud and aggressive persons,
    They are vexations
    To the spirit.

    Gerperga knows
    If she compares herself with others,
    She may become vain and bitter;
    For always there will be greater
    And lesser persons than herself.

    She enjoys her achievements as well as her plans.
    Keeps interested in her own career,
    However humbled;
    It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

    Gerperga: 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.

    Gerperga: Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love,

    For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    It is perennial as the grass.

    Gerperga, as you take your leave,
    Take kindly to 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 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,
    And broken dreams,
    It is still a beautiful world.

    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.


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