Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) has often been ridiculed – she features in Nicholas T. Parsons’ The Joy of Bad Verse – but even her detractors have to admit that ‘Solitude’ succeeds, and certainly remains successful as a piece of poetry about solitude. Anthony Burgess memorably rewrote the poem’s opening two lines as ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.’
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.