Famous Sad Poem

"Solitude" is Ella Wheeler Wilcox's most famous poem. The idea for the poem came as she was traveling 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 an 1883 issue of The New York Sun.

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This poem, in my own eyes, represents things I have already heard. A sum up of this poem, for any and all that wish to understand the dark yet true meaning behind this poem, Ella states that...

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Famous Poem


Ella Wheeler Wilcox By more Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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!
  • Ivia Yofi Bolipata by Ivia Yofi Bolipata, U.S.A
  • 3 years ago

Life is hard as a widow - this is a poem full of sadness.

  • Deborah Zewdie by Deborah Zewdie
  • 4 years ago

I am really touched by your poem, Ella. You expressed everything about life. It's true that no one stays by your side when you grieve, but they surround you when you rejoice. THANK YOU very much. I appreciate you. God bless you and your pen.

  • Elizabeth by Elizabeth
  • 4 years ago

This poem is comforting for me in that it is really true for me. There is much loneliness in the world and just in the reading, I felt not alone but accompanied. The dying process is internal, none of us can know what the person dying is feeling on the inside and in the wee hours when there is no one.

  • Sangeeta Saha by Sangeeta Saha
  • 5 years ago

This poem is so true to life and touches my heart. Hats off to the poet to justify her honest point of view and thus influence the new poets to get inspired.

  • Asriel Osborne by Asriel Osborne, Limerick, PA
  • 5 years ago

This poem, in my own eyes, represents things I have already heard. A sum up of this poem, for any and all that wish to understand the dark yet true meaning behind this poem, Ella states that through life you will be able to experience happy things and create good memories. However, there will always be darker and colder things that will come, thus the saying, "Karma will come collect your debt," is applied. Death is something that cannot be stopped, nor easily be done without grief and sorrow. Even if there are many people and pets around to comfort the grieving person, there will always be that icy feeling of dread and sorrow. This can also be referred upon as depression, obviously so. Depression is most common around these times or can be given through genes by the parents to the child the mother conceives. Harsh enough, Ella clearly understands depression and how hard it is to lose someone due to death's unforgiving hand.

  • AspieTree by AspieTree
  • 6 years ago

I found this poem in a book that I had. It was during the time that I was going through a breakup and I felt really lost. We had broken up, because in his words, ''I was too depressed.'' I felt like no one understood what was going on. I couldn't find anyone who would actually take the time to hear what was going on in my life.

  • Joshua C. Nance by Joshua C. Nance
  • 5 years ago

I, too, found this poem when I was going through a break-up.

  • Gogla by Gogla
  • 7 years ago

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

  • Sharon Duff by Sharon Duff
  • 8 years 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?

  • Kim Tanner by Kim Tanner
  • 4 years ago

I agree with Amanda. This is not a "feel good poem." It states the cold hard truth. People love being around those who make them feel good. However, when you find yourself facing troubles, or you feel miserable and depressed, you will often find yourself more alone than ever. You need to be able to come to terms with that, as well as be strong enough to be able to handle it. Of course there will be some exceptions for different people, but in general these statements hold true.

  • Amanda Ostaszewski by Amanda Ostaszewski
  • 7 years 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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