Friday, July 1, 2011

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone"

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone"
Dr Abe V Rotor


In response to audience's request for more inspirational poems, I have chosen The Way of the World, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919).This is a sequel to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Psalm of Life which was aired earlier on Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's-School-on-Air) and posted on this Blog.

Here is Wilcox's masterpiece which projected her to world fame as author and poetess.

The Way of the World

Laugh, and the world laughs with you,
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the brave 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 rebound to a joyful sound
And shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you,
Grieve, and they turn to go;
They want full measure of your pleasure,
But they do not want your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many,
Be sad, and you lose them all;
There is 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.
Forget and forgive – it helps you to live,
But no man can help you to die;

There’s room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one, we must all march on
Through the narrow isle of pain.

Wilcox believed in reincarnation. She said.

"As we think, act, and live here today, we built the structures of our homes in spirit realms after we leave earth, and we build karma for future lives, thousands of years to come, on this earth or other planets. Life will assume new dignity, and labor new interest for us, when we come to the knowledge that death is but a continuation of life and labor, in higher planes".

In her deep grief over the death of her husband whom she loved so dearly, and for not receiving any message from his spirit, she consulted a popular astrologer Max Heindel. Heindel advised Wilcox.

“Did you ever stand beside a clear pool of water, and see the trees and skies repeated therein? And did you ever cast a stone into that pool and see it clouded and turmoiled, so it gave no reflection? Yet the skies and trees were waiting above to be reflected when the waters grew calm. So God and your husband's spirit wait to show themselves to you when the turbulence of sorrow is quieted."

Several months later, she composed an affirmative prayer, "I am the living witness: The dead live: And they speak through us and to us: And I am the voice that gives this glorious truth to the suffering world: I am ready, God…”.

Here are selections from her works which show the characteristic Wilcox Positivism.

The Man Worth While

It is easy enough to be pleasant,
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is one who will smile,
When everything goes dead wrong.

The Winds of Fate

One ship drives east and another drives west

With the selfsame winds that blow.
'Tis the set of the sails,
And not the gales,
That tell us the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate;

As we voyage along through life,
'Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Wilcox’s works can be summarized by the first stanza of The Way of the World, her most popular poem - similarly compared to the masterpieces, the Psalm of Life of Longfellow, Only God can Make a Tree of Joyce Kilmer, Auguries of Innocence of William Blake, among others.

Laugh and the world laughs with you,
Weep, and you weep alone;
The good old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.

Toward the end of her life, she said, "Love lights more fires, than hate extinguishes.”

(Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poem plaque at San Francisco's Jack Kerouac Alley)

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