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Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850 – 1919) – A Tribute by Sean M Kelly

by inspire on January 6, 2010

“It is easy enough to be pleasant,Ella Wheeler Wilcox American Poet (1850 - 1919)
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox (from The Man Worthwhile)

Isn’t it funny sometimes that we use quotes and sayings alot of our lives and don’t know where they come from. Sometimes I think we subconsciously think they’ve been around forever!

Such was the case for me with Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850 – 1919). I have known and used quotes from her poetry all my life. Indeed as I read one in particular, I could hear my own Mothers voice as she so often used this quote to help  cheer me up when needed. I’m sure you have heard this quote yourself, it’s taken from one of Ella’s poems called ”Solitude“:

”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.”

After doing a bit of research on the internet I found many other poetic gems by Ella which inspire deeply. The following quote is on San Francisco’s Jack Kerouac Alley.

The following poem particularly inspired me. Take a few moments to reflect and really feel the meaning behind her words.

Whatever Is – Is Best

 I know as my life grows older
And mine eyes have clearer sight –
That under each rank wrong, somewhere
There lies the root of Right;
That each sorrow has its purpose,
By the sorrowing oft unguessed,
But as sure as the sun brings morning,
Whatever is – is best.

I know that each sinful action,
As sure as the night brings shade,
Is somewhere, some time punished,
Tho’ the hour be long delayed.
I know that the soul is aided
Sometimes by the heart’s unrest,
And to grow means often to suffer –
But whatever is – is best.

I know there are no errors,
In the great Eternal plan,
And all things work together
For the final good of man.
And I know when my soul speeds onward
In its grand Eternal quest,
I shall say as I look back earthward,
Whatever is – is best.

To finish my tribute to Ella Wheeler Wilcox here’s a wonderful video with music of all her poem “Solitude”.



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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie January 12, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Very nice post. Ella Wheeler Wilcox was very popular back in her day, but is rather obscure now, which is too bad, because she was a wonderful poet. Her love poems are among my favorites…

What Love Is:

Love is the centre and circumference;
The cause and aim of all things – ’tis the key
To joy and sorrow, and the recompense
For all the ills that have been, or may be.

Love is as bitter as the dregs of sin,
As sweet as clover-honey in its cell;
Love is the password whereby souls get in
To Heaven – the gate that leads, sometimes, to Hell.

Love is the crown that glorifies; the curse
That brands and burdens; it is life and death;
It is the great law of the universe;
And nothing can exist without its breath.

Love is the impulse which directs the world,
And all things know it and obey its power.
Man, in the maelstrom of his passions whirled;
The bee that takes the pollen to the flower;

The earth, uplifting her bare, pulsing breast
To fervent kisses of the amorous sun; -
Each but obeys creative Love’s behest,
Which everywhere instinctively is done.

Love is the only thing that pays for birth,
Or makes death welcome. Oh, dear God above,
This beautiful but sad, perplexing earth,
Pity the hearts that know – or know not – Love!

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

inspire January 12, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Hi Valerie

Yes I agree, her words/poems are absolutely brilliant and really relevant today! I actually often quoted her but didn’t know she was the source of the quotes. When I found a lot of her work last week I felt really drawn to write the post.

I really appreciate your comment and the poem you inserted “What Love Is” – more of her work for people to enjoy!

Very best wishes

Roibeard McElroy January 19, 2010 at 10:10 am

I have to confess I never knew the pen that dubbed those famous lines – shame on me – so thanks sean for bringing this very insighful, profound poetess to my attention. And thank you also Valerie for putting up her very fine poem on love!!

Roibeard aka Celtic poet

inspire January 26, 2010 at 7:52 am

I didnt know of this lady either. She was one fantastic poet! Thanks for your input, much appreciated.

Best wishes

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