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Jul 05 2012

More remedial poetry

I had always assumed that “Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone” was just an old saying found on eternally-reblogged Tumblr pictures and the covers of overpriced diaries at Barnes & Noble. But as Heather was quick to inform me, it’s actually part of a longer work: “Solitude” by Edna Wheeler Wilcox. Rather than what would first appear to be a call for joy and focusing on the positive things in life, it turns out to be a bitterly depressing portrayal of the stark isolation of pain:

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 long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Ultimately, the central message seems to be less like “Cheer up!”, and more like “Fuck people.”

9 comments

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  1. 1
    BK

    I don’t think it’s really judging people,”For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, But has trouble enough of its own,” just pointing out a tough reality.

  2. 2
    Cuttlefish

    I miss the days when poetry rhymed.

    1. 2.1
      John Conolley

      Funny. I was just thinking she let rhyme run away with her.

  3. 3
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    I had no idea. Awesome.

  4. 4
    tricster

    Fantastic, a poem with a message I can really get behind!

    Also, I had no idea of the full poem, and that makes me feel slightly guilty about that. Only slightly, since it has now been remedied.

  5. 5
    fester60613

    Bitter and depressing for sure. I can’t stand this poem – it threatens to leap at me and tear off those scabs!

  6. 6
    ttch

    Not a poem exactly, but I found equally sad:

    I’ve been to your cities, I didn’t stay long by Kate Beaton

    It’s the boat at the end…

  7. 7
    Twitter24

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