Desiderata Posters and Prints

desiderata poster

One of the most iconic pieces of positive thinking literature ever written is the Desiderata poem by Max Ehrmann. Although popular legend has it that the Desiderata prose poem was found in in the basement of St Paul’s church in Baltimore, Maryland, in fact the piece was written in 1927.

Mr. Ehrmann produced many other pieces of excellent writing throughout his life, the Desiderata remain his most famous work.

During the course of the resurgence of peace and love and new thought movements of the 1960’s and 70’s, the Desiderata became one of the most widely popular posters ever sold. It is estimated that in the United States alone, more than 10,000,000 copies of the poem in poster and art print format were sold.

This classic piece of positive literature taught the lesson of calm self-confidence to literally millions of people. During that time it was difficult to find any home with a teenager without a copy of the Desiderata hanging in the teen’s bedroom.




Often the poem is printed onto aged parchment style paper, mimicking the look of what an ancient document found in a musty church attic might appear.

Sometimes, though, the prints are framed and printed in a much more modern style. Any style, of course, is appropriate as long as the appearance is in keeping with the general tenor of the poem.

The poem itself, when written by Mr. Ehrmann was copyrighted in his name as the author. But through a series of events in which he lent the poem to a military chaplain during World War Two to boost the soldiers’ morale and a subsequent publishing in an inspirational magazine, the poem itself was ruled to be in the public domain.

This means that anyone can use the words of the poem to produce another work.

Desiderata Posters and Prints Available Online

What it does not mean, as many people think, is that one person can copy another person’s poster or print or work of art and claim that as their own. The words of the poem itself are in the public domain, but the subsequent works, whether they are framed posters, greetings cards, prints or T-shirts or any other work, those rights remain with the creator of that work.

So if a person wanted to create their own poster using the words of the Desiderata and then sell that on EBay, or Etsy or even Amazon, they would be within their rights to do so. But it is against copyright law to copy another person’s work without their explicit permission.

The thing is, that even though are literally hundreds of thousands of works of art created using the words of the Desiderata poem, those words still hold their power. The idea that each of us is responsible for our own life, and that we deserve happiness, joy and peace, is still a hallmark of positivity no matter what generation we were born in.

Desiderata posters, prints, cards and even engraved wall plaques continue to be top sellers all around the internet. And the simple truth of it is, those words have spread positive thoughts to millions of people over the years since they have been written and show no signs of diminishing their power at all.

Thank goodness.

4 Comments on “Desiderata Posters and Prints”

  1. Josef

    There are a lot of posters of this poem available online. Way too many to pick only one. LOL

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