Skip navigation to main content

Featured Poem: Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Written by Emma Walsh, 11th July 2016
pink-white

 This week's Featured Poem comes from Ella Wheeler Wilcox, a popular poet in her own lifetime, Solitude is her most renowned work.

Born in Wisconsin in 1850, Ella Wheeler Wilcox began writing poetry at an early age and was well known as a poet in her own state by the time she graduated high school.

Best known for her poem Solitude, Wilcox penned the infamous opening lines 'Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone' after consoling a grieving woman on a train. The poem was first published in The New York Sun in February 1883, earning Wilcox $5 and was collected in the book Poems of Passion later that year.

Wilcox was thought a popular poet rather than a literary one, her poems being plainly written in rhyming verse and expressing sentiments of cheer and optimism. The literary society of the time did not much credit Wheeler's work but fourteen of her poems were selected for the 1936 Best Loved Poems of the American People anthology and two featured in the 1992 Best Remembered Poems anthology.

Solitude

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its 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 large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

 

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Calderstones

New interactive map experience uncovers Trails & Tales in Calderstones Park

Visitors to Calderstones Park can embark on a journey of discovery and literary delight thanks to our new digital park…

Read more
Literature

July’s Stories and Poems

Earlier this year we ran a Learning Workshop focused on reading novels in Shared Reading groups, it was wonderful to…

Read more
Featured Poems

Featured Poem: After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes by Emily Dickinson

For the rest of June our weekly Featured Poem will celebrate the month of Pride. We’ve chosen poems by LGBTQ+…

Contact us

Get in touch and be part of the story
You can also speak to us on: 0151 729 2200
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.