This week’s Featured Poem comes from Ella Wheeler Wilcox, a popular poet in her own lifetime, Solitude is her most renowned work.
Best known for her poem Solitude, Wilcox penned the infamous opening lines ‘Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone’ after consoling a grieving woman on a train. The poem was first published in The New York Sun in February 1883, earning Wilcox $5 and was collected in the book Poems of Passion later that year.
Wilcox was thought a popular poet rather than a literary one, her poems being plainly written in rhyming verse and expressing sentiments of cheer and optimism. The literary society of the time did not much credit Wheeler’s work but fourteen of her poems were selected for the 1936 Best Loved Poems of the American People anthology and two featured in the 1992 Best Remembered Poems anthology.