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 nectar'd 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.
Come, cuddle your head on my shoulder, dear,
Your head like the golden-rod,
And we will go sailing away from here
To the beautiful Land of Nod.
Away from life's hurry, and flurry, and worry,
Away from earth's shadows and gloom,
To a world of fair weather we'll float off together
Where roses are always in bloom.
Just shut up your eyes, and fold your hands,
Your hands like the leaves of a rose,
And we will go sailing to those fair lands
That never an atlas shows.
On the North and the West they are bounded by rest,
On the South and the East by dreams;
'Tis the country ideal, where nothing is real,
But everything only seems.
Just drop down the curtains of your dear eyes,
Those eyes like a bright blue-bell,
And we will sail out under starlit skies,
To the land where the fairies dwell.
Down the river of sleep, our barque shall sweep,
Till it reaches that mystical Isle
Which no man has seen, but where all have been,
And there we will pause awhile.
I will croon you a song, as we float along,
To that shore that is blessed of God.
Then ho! for that fair land, we're off for that rare land,
That beautiful land of Nod.
Though critics may bow to art, and I am its own true lover,
It is not art, but heart, which wins the wide world over.
Though smooth be the heartless prayer, no ear in Heaven will mind it,
And the finest phrase falls dead, if there is no feeling behind it.
Though perfect the player's touch, little if any he sways us,
Unless we feel his heart throb through the music he plays us.
Though the poet may spend his life in skilfully rounding a measure,
Unless he writes from a full warm heart, he gives us little pleasure.
So it is not the speech which tells, but the impulse which goes with the saying,
And it is not the words of the prayer, but the yearning back of the praying.
It is not the artist's skill, which into our soul comes stealing
With a joy that is almost pain, but it is the player's feeling.
And it is not the poet's song, though sweeter than sweet bells chiming,
Which thrills us through and through, but the heart which beats under the rhyming.
And therefore I say again, though I am art's own true lover,
That it is not art, but heart, which wins the wide world over.
Methinks ofttimes my heart is like some bee,
That goes forth through the summer day and sings,
And gathers honey from all growing things
In garden plot, or on the clover lea.
When the long afternoon grows late, and she
Would seek her hive, she cannot lift her wings,
So heavily the too sweet burden clings,
From which she would not, and yet would, fly free
So with my full fond heart; for when it tries
To lift itself to peace-crowned heights, above
The common way where countless feet have trod,
Lo! then, this burden of dear human ties,
This growing weight of precious earthly love,
Binds down the spirit that would soar to God.
One time in Arcadie's fair bowers
There met a bright immortal band,
To choose their emblems from the flowers
That made an Eden of that land.
Sweet Constancy, with eyes of hope,
Strayed down the garden path alone
And gathered sprays of heliotrope,
To place in clusters at her zone.
True Friendship plucked the ivy green,
Forever fresh, forever fair.
Inconstancy with flippant mien
The fading primrose chose to wear.
One moment Love the rose paused by;
But Beauty picked it for her hair.
Love paced the garden with a sigh,--
He found no fitting emblem there.
Then suddenly he saw a flame;
A conflagration turned to bloom.
It even put the rose to shame,
Both in its beauty and perfume.
He watched it, and it did not fade;
He plucked it, and it brighter grew.
In cold or heat, all undismayed,
It kept its fragrance and its hue.
"Here deathless love and passion sleep,"
He cried, "embodied in this flower.
This is the emblem I will keep."
Love wore carnations from that hour.
Biographical Info in Wikipedia
|Comments by John Duncan:
Ella Wheeler wrote most of her best poetry before she married. While married she made a pact with her husband that whoever passed away first would try to communicate with the other. When her husband died and she did not hear from him, she became monumentally depressed and sought out ways to communicate with him. This led her into the domain of the occult and the belief in reincarntion. I believe her resulting promotion of the occult is what caused many to exclude her from the lists of great American poets. That is a shame. The bulk of her work is rhythmic and delightful. Happily, while she was not popular with the literary critics, she was, and is, popular with the common man for her rhythm and rhyme.
Be sure to read her poems aloud - it serves them well.