Famous Sad Poem

Solitude By Ella Wheeler Wilcox

"Solitude" is Ella Wheeler Wilcox's most famous poem. The idea for the poem came as she was travelling to Madison, Wisconsin, to attend the Governor's inaugural ball. 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 unhappy that she could barely attend the festivities. As she looked at her own face in the mirror, she suddenly recalled the sorrowful widow. It was at that moment that she wrote the opening lines of "Solitude." It was first published in a 1883 issue of The New York Sun.

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This is a wonderful poem and I really liked it. My favorite yet!

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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.

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Has this poem touched you? Share your story!
  • by Gogla
  • 5 months ago

This is a wonderful poem and I really liked it. My favorite yet!

  • by Sharon Duff
  • 1 year ago

I found this poem very inspiring and thought provoking. However I disagree strongly with the line "But no man can help you die" this one line destroyed the inspiration theme as it made me question the entire motivational perspective of the poem. This one line led to questioning what otherwise would have been perfect poetry for myself. I may be misunderstanding this line, however, as I understand life, one of the greatest gifts from one human being to another is to bring comfort to a dying person. I understand that this poem was conceived when Ella was traveling to a ball and shared a coach with a mourning lady. While Ella consoled the lady, Ella then selfishly states that the encounter dissipated any joy she had for the ball festivities?

  • by Amanda Ostaszewski
  • 1 year ago

I think she means that we all die alone and that dying is an experience we go through alone. This line, that has "destroyed the inspiration theme" may also suggest that there is not really such a thing as someone who can comfort you when you are dying. Also, this is not a happy poem. It is based in a hard reality. I love this poem, but I find no inspiration from it, just the cold hard truth.

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