Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

Solitude


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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Sunday, May 15, 2005

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  • Colleen Courtney (6/6/2014 7:00:00 PM)

    Wow! So glad this poem was recalled to mind! Only ever recall the first two lines and totally forgot how brutally honest but incredibly wonderful the full reading is! Love this write! (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (6/6/2014 6:38:00 PM)

    .........honestly this is one of the best poems ever written....completely tells you the straight hard facts of life.....
    ................................~~~~~~~ LOVE ~ LOVE ~ LOVE ~~~~~~~~..................................... (Report) Reply

  • Rouren Torres (1/3/2014 10:26:00 PM)

    It's true. I may speak to many, but only one knows me and is willing to suffer beside me, as I suffer beside her. That person is really hard to come by and even more precious. (Report) Reply

  • John Pendrey (12/4/2013 3:48:00 AM)

    It's a classic, but surely sometimes it's good to let ourselves be vulnerable or to share another's grief. (Report) Reply

  • Umar Mansoor (4/22/2013 6:36:00 AM)

    The enduring significance and substance contained in this magnificently evocative and resilient poem touches the latent strings of subdued emotions with forceful resonance. It is easily one of the best poems I have ever read of English poetry. The bitter taste of the stanzas speak inevitably about the rustic human nature, since very few of us behold the morals to lift somebody from distress and make him/her feel happy................... (Report) Reply

  • Johnny Rodriguez (5/6/2010 11:19:00 AM)

    In response to J. Hays and Lori Smith.

    I agree, the same applies to me. I may be surround by many people but none are truly my friends, I guess I'm all alone... (Report) Reply

  • Cracker Cow (12/21/2009 11:29:00 AM)

    I was only the age of seven when my mother recited this poem to me. It was after a judo match. The poem has been by my bed for years. The poem has brought me back from self pity. It has saved me from committing sucide as my mother did.
    Dearest mother why did you not remember the poem? (Report) Reply

  • Natalie Walker (4/19/2008 2:45:00 PM)

    I learned this poem in the 80's and have not been able to 'forget' it. It says so much, and has inspired me to write a lot myself then, and now. (Report) Reply

  • Jw Cy (7/13/2007 3:46:00 AM)

    I bumped into this poem and i loved it since. it keeps me company when i'm feeling out there, alone, the title of the poem says it all. (Report) Reply

  • Jazzy D. (2/2/2007 2:14:00 PM)

    This poem is so deep and so real...'They want full measure of all your pleasure,
    But they do not need your woe.' I don't think I could've put it better myself. (Report) Reply

  • J. Hays (7/18/2005 1:13:00 AM)

    Amazing, and shocking, how true this is. Not too long ago I went through some hard times and slipped into depression. I kept it hidden for months, hoping it would pass. Finally, it became too bad to hide, and so I sought the help of my best, closest friends. These people I'd known for years, or thought I'd known, immediately stopped talking to me and worked hard to avoid me. It was only by rebuilding the pretense that all-was-well that they even grudgingly accepted me, but I had to find help somewhere else.
    When times are tough, you find out who your real friends are. (Report) Reply

  • Lori Smith (6/10/2005 7:47:00 PM)

    This is so true. In recent pain, I had but a few who were really there for me. I can relate. (Report) Reply

Read all 17 comments »

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