Laugh, and the world laughs with you

The poem “Solitude” was written in 1983 by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, an American Author and poet (1850-1919). It was her most enduring work. The inspiration for the poem came as she was traveling to attend the Governor’s inaugural ball in Madison, Wisconsin. On her way to the celebration, there was a young woman dressed in black sitting across the aisle from her. 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 could barely attend the scheduled festivities. 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“:



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.

Credits: Bio – Wiki. Poem – Poetry Foundation. Video background: The Virgin River, Arizona. Music: Gynopedie by Alastair Cameron.


  1. I find this very sad…….


  2. inspiration comes in all colors, even black.


  3. Wading, slogging through that darkness, draining one’s energy, sapping one’s hope – only to finally see a light ahead. It just shouldn’t hurt so damn much to get there.


  4. I love Ella Wheeler Wilcox…not only for this poem, but for her love of animals. She obviously was able to feel deeply and to express with such beauty all that she feels. I’ve wondered who the voice is behind the poetry reciting. I’ve heard that voice so many times on videos of poetry readings. And, not to take away from this lovely post…but he drives me nuts! No life in that guy at all. I keep wishing they’d use some young woman with a voice filled with sweet poignancy.


  5. Very real.


  6. always love this poem.


  7. If we don’t get over things, but instead get through them, I think this poet helped this woman further along.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: