Solitude – a poem

There is a poem that’s been on my mind lately. I’m not sure what it is lately that’s made me feel so reflective … but this poem is one that I have always felt speaks to not only my life experiences, but to the human spirit in general. My husband tells me it’s depressing, where as I – and many people in my mother’s side of the family – appreciate it for speaking what we see as the truth. I will share it below.


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 long and lordly train,
but one by one we must all file on
through the narrow aisles of pain.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1855-1919)


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