Depression, Poetry

“Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.”

001.01.02 - Laugh and the World Laughs - Dance, Poetry. Mucha

Dance and Poetry. Two works from the painter Alphonse Mucha’s collection The Arts  (1898).


Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s 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 long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

001.01.03 - Laugh and the World Laughs - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

2 thoughts on ““Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.””

  1. This poem touches on one experience common in bipolar disorder. People want to be with us when we are high and turn away from us when we are low.

    When we are hypomanic people love to be with us, vicariously enjoying the champagne buzz. But when that wears off, the depression follows and people turn away.

    One reason this quaint poem is helpful is that it explains that this averted gaze is not done in a consciously harmful manner (e.g. to judge the fact that we are depressed). Instead it is because they feel like they already have enough on their own plate and so do not have what it takes — courage, energy, compassion — to attend to our distress.


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