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Transcript of "Solitude"
Translated by Rachel Harvin Ella Wheeler Wilcox is one of America’s great writers. Her prose and poetry are a force of optimism, of the triumph of hope over despair, of victory over failure, of good over evil, of kindness over selfishness. She gave no quarter to negativity. The harshness of life was but an opportunity to change lead into gold Ella Wheeler Wilcox (November 5, 1850–October 30, 1919) was an American author and poet. Her best-known work was Poems of Passion, and her autobiography, The Worlds and I was published in 1918 shortly before her death.
A popular rather than a literary poet, her poems express sentiments of cheer and optimism in plainly written, rhyming verse. Her world view is expressed in the title of her poem "Whatever Is—Is Best" (suggesting an echo of Pope's "Whatever is, is right."). "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. Key Terms: gall: something bitter or severe;
bile or waste
mirth: amusement or laughter Interpretation of Stanza One:
The idea that the earth (and by extension mankind) has to "borrow" its happy feelings coupled with the idea that we each experience our sorrows alone evokes a kind of gentle sadness, to me. There also is the implication that no one wants to hear our sorrows , but will always reach out when we are at our best. Stanza Two Interpretation:
While you celebrate, people are glad
to join the party. On the other hand,
when suffering no one wants to join
you or help you. Basically, no one
wants to join the pity party. No one
cares for you at your worst. Stanza Three Interpretation:
Everyone is glad to be able to share blessings
with you, but no one is willing to stand by you
when you really need help. Those who are
successful prosper,but if you don't succeed it is
your obligation to help yourself. People can't
sabotage you, in the end, your success is in your
own hands. Once again, there is always room
for more people to help celebrate, but as we go
through any kind of pain or obstacle, there
isn't the time or space for anyone else. Overall Theme:
The main theme is the cruelty of humanity. When you are joyful people want to keep your company since they want to share happiness. However, when you are melancholy, people tend to avoid you. The world is like an echo that resounds to happiness. When you're at your worst you are with solitude. Wilcox is pointing out that we have to be self-reliant because no one else is willing to share the burden. Keeping ourselves cheerful is important. Sometimes, we are the only ones who can shed light into our own lives. RHYME SCHEME and FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE
Laugh, and the world laughs with you; A
Weep, and you weep alone; B
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, C
But has trouble enough of its own. B
Sing, and the hills will answer; D
Sigh, it is lost on the air; E
The echoes bound to a joyful sound, F
But shrink from voicing care. E
Rejoice, and men will seek you; G
Grieve, and they turn and go; H
They want full measure of all your pleasure, I
But they do not need your woe. H
Be glad, and your friends are many; J
Be sad, and you lose them all,— K
There are none to decline your nectared wine, L
But alone you must drink life’s gall. K
Feast, and your halls are crowded; M
Fast, and the world goes by. N
Succeed and give, and it helps you live, O
But no man can help you die. N
There is room in the halls of pleasure P
For a large and lordly train, Q
But one by one we must all file on R
Through the narrow aisles of pain. S The mood of the poem is very realistic and saddening. It's almost ironic. Wilcox is describing how people can be so cruel. On the other hand, what if everyone is being self- reliant or trying not to be hurt? No one wants to go through pain. But no one thinks that if they helped someone they might prevent pain in the long run. Shift!