Claudia Schoenfeld is hosting ‘MeetingTheBar’ this week over at the dVerse Poets Pub. The subject this week is Beautiful Solitude. Claudia extols the virtue of solitude and asks us to compose a poem about it.
I hope I’ll be forgiven (pretty please), but I’ve chosen to break the rules a bit, simply because there is a poem that I know and love called “Solitude”, which was written and first published 130 years ago by one of my favourite poets.
I have been a fan of Ella Wheeler Wilcox for some time. She is not that well known in the full scheme of things, but you will almost certainly recognise the opening lines of this poem, which in the pop music world, I guess, would be called a ‘hook line’. It is not a particularly happy poem, but it is full of truths, it is memorable, I love it and felt that, with Claudia’s important prompt, it could not be left without a mention.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s 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
(1850 to 1919)
My own commentary on Ella is here