Desiderata: Ellen Cook (n-dialect)

This well known poem is aspirational and uplifting: a kind of universal guide to being gentle with yourself, even in challenging times. The Latin title, “Desiderata” simply means “things desired”, and may have given the poem a hint of mystique. Originally written by Max Ehrmann in 1927, it probably achieved peak fame in 1971 when it was given a musical accompaniment by Les Crane that includes a full gospel choir (you can find it here on YouTube). Nearly a hundred years after its composition, it still holds a message of peace and power that’s worth carrying close to your heart.

Thanks to Ellen Cook – for whom it is a favourite – for allowing us to share her n-dialect translation, complete with audio. As a meditation, it provides a great opportunity for memorization for adult learners, and it’s a pleasure to add some much-needed n-dialect content to our collection. The text chosen for the “cover image” (photo provided by Solomon Ratt), is the part that forms the chorus of the Les Crane gospel performance. For some of us who remember the 1970s, it’s impossible to hear this poem without belting out “You are a child…”

(In preparing the text to share here, as support for those who might like to consider it in other dialects, we’ve marked the changing N with an acute accent so it’s instantly clear what would become a Y or a TH in y- or th-dialects. These are the most obvious adjustments, but not the only ones.)

DESIDERATA (n-dialect, translated by Ellen Cook, 2024)DESIDERATA (Max Ehrman, 1927)
nisihkâc pimohtêk ita ê‑wêstatêwêmakahk mîna papâsińihtamowin ê‑ayâk;Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
kiskisik ê-ihtakok pêyâhtakêńimowin ita ê‑koskwâwâtahk.and remember what peace there may be in silence.
ińikohk ê-isi-kaskihtâyêk, êkâ ta‑pakitênimisoyêk,As far as possible without surrender
mino‑wîcêwikohk kahkinaw anisininiwak.be on good terms with all persons.
tâpwêwinihk isi‑ayamik, papêyâhtak êkwa mîna kwayask, ta‑isi‑nisitohtâkawiyêk.Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
mîna natohtawihkok kotakiyak, ahpô aniki kâ-kakêpâtisicik êkwa aniki nama kêkwan ka‑kiskinohamâkôwisicik;even to the dull and the ignorant,
ańîs wîstawâw ayâwak âcimowina.they too have their story.
tapasîstawihkok kâ-notinikêskicik mîna kâ-kisîwêcik cikêmâ ta‑pîkwêńihtamihêwak kitahcâhkowâwa.Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
kîspin tâpitênimisowêkwawi kotakiyak anisininiwak, kika‑ati‑kistêńimitisonâwâw mîna ka‑ati-kisîwêńihtênâwâw,If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter;
mîna mihcêtiwak awasimê kâ‑kistêńihtâkosicikfor always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
mîna kâ‑apistêńihtâkosicik nawac kîna.
kistênihtamok anihi kêkwâna kâkî‑pê‑kaskihtâyêk ahpô anihi kâwî-ati-tôtamêk;Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
nâkatawêńihtamok kitatoskêwiniwâw kiyâm ê‑isi‑apistêńihtâkwahk.Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
miciminamok sôhki, cikêmâ poko ispî ta‑kî‑ati‑kwêskipańiw ki‑mińopańiwiniwâw.it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
ayâkwâmêńihtamok kitatoskêwiniwâw ańîs misiwêyihtakwan kayêyisîwin;Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
êkâwîńa mâka kâ‑kipwâpiskâkowâw, poko ańîs ta‑wâpahtamêk mińwâtisiwin.But let not this blind you to what virtue there is;
mihcêtiwak kâ-atoskâtâhkêk kwayask pimâtisiwin;many persons strive for high ideals,
mîna misiwê ihtâwak ô‑mińô‑totâkêwak.and everywhere life is full of heroism.
tâpitaw tâpwê‑âtisik.Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
kâwîńa pantaw sâkihiwêhkâsok êkwa mîna tâpwêwakêńihtamok sâkihîwêwin, ańîs sâkihitowin ôma, tâpiskôc kiyâm ê‑pâhkopańik askiy tâpwê poko kâ-kîhtwâm nihtâwikinwa maskosiyaNeither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
mińwêńihtamok ê‑ati‑kêhtêyâtisiyêk, kwayask tâ‑ati‑papakitinamêk anihi kâkî-kistêńihtamêk ispî ê‑oskâtisiyêk.Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
kwayask pamihik mîna maskawisîhik kitahcahkowâw ta‑wîcihikoyêk kîspin âńimisiwin nakiskamêkwâwi;Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
êkawîńa mâka pantaw mikoskatêńihtamok;But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
mihcêt awiyak môskâcihik kîkwańa ôma mêkwâc ê‑ayêskosit mîna ê‑kaskêńihtamêńihtahk.Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
mińo pamihisok kisêwatisiwinihk isi;Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
kîna ańîs kihci kîsiko-awâsis namawîńa nôhtaw ińikohk mistikwak êkwa acâhkosak, kîsta kikaskihtamâson ôta ta‑ayâyan.You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
kîspin mâka êkwa kwayask nisitohtamêkwâwi tânisi ê‑ispańihk, misawâc kâkî-itastamâkawiyêk ta‑ati-ispańiw ôma kipimâtisiwiniwâw.And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
êwako ohci, pêyâhtakêńimok kisê‑manitôhk isi, ê‑isi‑nisitohtawâyek kisê‑manitôw.Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
poko ê-itatoskêyêk mîna ê‑isi‑pakosêńimoyêk, kanawêńihtamok,And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life,
pêyâhtakêńimowin kitahcakowâhk.keep peace in your soul.
kiyâm ê‑ihtakwahk kakwatakêńimowin, mîna kayêyisiwin, mîna nanihkaci-atoskêwin, minêntamok –With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
kiyâpic mińwâsin pimâtisiwin;it is still a beautiful world.
tâpitaw kakwê-cîhkêńihtamok.Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
---  Ellen Cook, 2024---  Max Ehrmann, 1927

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