It was one of those quotes that had caught my fancy in the “Quotable Quotes” section of a childhood favourite ‘Reader’s Digest’ and so i scribbled it down and made it a part of my own quotes-collection. Those first four lines have stayed in the sub-conscious and shaped much of my personal philosophy, attitudes and responses. Many years later i discovered the full poem in an anthology of poems and felt even more keenly the insight it offers.
Life-experiences, of course teach you even more. Yes, you realise that “alone must we walk the path”, carrying our own loads. With the world you can only ‘laugh, rejoice, feast’. But you also learn that there are those who help lessen your burdens on this journey with their love and caring. That is what makes these relationships ‘special’ and these relationships are the one you need to nurture and cherish. Moreover, like your woes, sometimes even your moments of greatest happiness cannot be shared with all. Your personal pain and your personal pleasure is for your ’solitude’ alone…
~ a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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.