from and about
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
(biographical info at bottom of page)
To sin by
silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of people.
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.
There's one sad truth in life
While journeying east and west--
The only folks we really wound
Are those we love the best.
We flatter those we scarcely know,
We please the fleeting guest,
And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best.
drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.
Like the winds of the seas are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through the life:
'Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
For this is wisdom--to love and live
To take what fate or the Gods may give,
To ask no question, to make no prayer,
To kiss the lips and caress the hair,
Speed passion's ebb as we greet its flow,
To have and to hold, and, in time--let go.
continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever
you choose, if you first get to know who you are and are willing
to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it.
people behind the words
Two - Year Three
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The person who radiates good cheer, who makes
life happier wherever
he or she meets it, is always a person of vision and faith.
must do as you do? Your way I own
Is a very good way, and still,
There are sometimes two straight roads to a town,
One over, one under the hill.
You are treading the safe and the well-worn way,
That the prudent choose each time;
And you think me reckless and rash to-day
Because I prefer to climb.
There is no
chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent or
hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.
Ella Wheeler was born in 1850 on a farm in Johnstown, Wisconsin, the
youngest of four children. The family soon moved north of Madison.
She started writing poetry at a very early age, and was well known
as a poet in her own state by the time she graduated from high
Her most famous poem, "The Way Of The World," was first
published in the February 25, 1883 issue of The New York Sun.
The inspiration for the poem came as she was travelling to attend
the Governor's inaugural ball in Madison, Wisconsin. 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 depressed that she could barely
attend the scheduled festivities. As she looked at her own radiant
face in the mirror, she suddenly recalled the sorrowful widow. It
was at that moment that she wrote the opening lines of "The Way
Of The World":
- 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
She sent the poem to the Sun and received $5 for her
effort. It was collected in the book Poems of Passion shortly
after in May 1883.
In 1884, she married Robert Wilcox of Meriden, Connecticut, where
the couple lived before moving to New York City and then to Granite
Bay in the Short Beach section of Branford, Connecticut. The two
homes they built on Long Island Sound, along with several cottages,
became known as Bungalow Court, and they would hold gatherings there
of literary and artistic friends. They had one child, a son, who
died shortly after birth. Not long after their marriage, they both
became interested in theosophy, new thought, and spiritualism.
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