19 May 2010


It was whilst making the comment 'Laugh and the world laugh alone' on someone's blog that I got to thinking about just where the saying had come from.
The result - not only the information needed but yet another poem for Cara's FreeVerse which can be found at OOH ... BOOKS! every Wednesday..
Who Said It: Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
When: 1883.
The Story behind It: These lines begin "Solitude," first published in the Feb. 25, 1883, issue of the New York Sun. The author was Ella Wheeler, and the inspiration for the poem came to Miss Wheeler on a day in early February, when she was to attend the governor's inaugural ball in Madison, Wis. She was on a train, enroute to the celebration, when she noticed a young woman dressed in black sitting across the aisle from her. Since the woman was crying, Miss Wheeler sat next to her and sought to comfort her for the rest of the journey. When they arrived, the poet was so depressed that she wondered how she could possibly attend the scheduled festivities. Later on, with the incident behind her, Miss Wheeler prepared for the inaugural ball. As she looked at her own radiant face in the mirror, she suddenly recalled the sorrowful widow. It was at that moment that she wrote the opening lines of "Solitude".

1855 - 1919.

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.


chitra said...

I loved this poem, each word full of meaning. Thanks for sharing.

Alexia561 said...

Never knew that saying came from a poem. I love it! Thank you!

Nina said...

This poem is so beautiful and so true. I just love this :

"Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air"

Kelly said...

I had no idea that saying came from a poem!

Thanks for enlightening me with the entire poem and the history behind it!

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

What an awesome woman. Beautiful poem!!! It's so true!
Thanks for reminding this :)
B xx

Pam said...

That is a lovely poem. I am still laughing from your making a wish post. Wouldn't having someone dress as a creepy clown and stalk people make them never talk to you again? Maybe that's the point if one is trying to get rid of someone.

Kissed by an Angel said...

I didn't know that the saying came from a poem either!!!

Jen said...

It is a beautiful poem. And it's true...except for a handful of true friends, they will all disappear.

Cara Powers said...

Cool poem! I really enjoyed learning the backstory. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

GMR said...

Wow...I've heard the saying but never the work behind it. Beautiful and moving poem if not heart-wrenching at the same time. Definitely speaks of a life journey filled with mirth looking better than one filled with tears....but there is something to be said of a balance somewhere in between. Thanks for sharing this great post!

Anonymous said...

Wow I love that poem! I heard that qoute before...never the poem though!

Vivienne said...

I never knew that line came from a poem!

Anonymous said...

I gave you an award!

Oddyoddyo13 said...

That poem is truly brilliant. Thank you, so much, for letting us read it.

quid said...

Petty... the first time I've ever seen this. And I definitively agree with it. Thanks for "unearthing it".


WhisperingWriter said...

Nice! I enjoyed the poem.

Myne Whitman said...

Thanks for this lovely poem.

Jenners said...

Thanks for tracking down the story behind this line and the whole poem (which I'd never read). Kind of sad really.

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