Solitude, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
What a find! I’ve heard the first stanza of this poem recited and referenced hundreds of time, but not once did those dramatic readers reference the author or title. I’ve been cheated all these years, to never find Ms. Wilcox in any of the anthologies touted by my English professors!
“Solitude” was published in 1883, and for her work Ms. Wilcox was paid $5 — so, dear poets, you can see the pay scale hasn’t changed all that dramatically over the years.
Have you ever stumbled across such a find as this? I think my day is made. If you’re up for another brief read, my contribution to APAD – Day 7 is Platitudes. The featured image is Tulips & Daffodils, by Sheila Creighton.