Sunday, January 04, 2009

Ella Wheeler Wilcox - Antidote to Gloom

I'm tired of reading about gloom and doom, but I'm also tired of reading about a variety of self-help measures to deal with the aforementioned doom and gloom. Modern purveyors of both attitudes get up my nose. The doom and gloom merchants have soured me to the point that I just don't care any more! But back a century or so ago, there was a poet, who, in her day acted much as the self-help gurus do today, but whose words I find far more acceptable: Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Unsophisticated, sincere, clear and optimistic, those are characteristics which shine through the poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Let the literary elite scoff, her poems have pleased many more people than those of gloomy, suicidal, self-obsessed poets. As well as a poet Ella was a mystic, and a Rosicrucian. She was born 5 Nov 1850 in Johnstown Wisconsin. Her Sun and Mars in Scorpio no doubt led her into mysticism, while Moon quite probably in Sagittarius with Venus led the optimistic attitude for which she became famous.

12 noon chart shown as no time of birth is known.

The writer's planet Mercury was in fair and balanced Libra, along with Jupiter. These two planets were opposed from Aries, Mercury by Uranus and Pluto, Jupiter by Saturn. The Mercury opposition was sweetened by harmonious sextile to Venus and trine from Venus to Uranus/Pluto, setting up a powerfully helpful configuration for her writing. The opposition between Saturn and Jupiter held Ella's exuberant hopeful spirit, which might otherwise have gone "over the top", in check and at a reasonably credible level.
"Ella Wheeler Wilcox is one of America’s great writers. Her prolific prose and poetry are a tour de force of optimism, of the triumph of hope over despair, of victory over failure, of good over evil, of kindness over selfishness. She gave no quarter to negativity. The harshness of life was but an opportunity to change lead into gold. She was a transcendental alchemist. She had a mastery of expressing with words the play of light and hope and creativity upon dreariness and hopelessness and destructiveness.

We have many good, more sophisticated writers. However, Ms. Wilcox’s strength is her simplicity. She had the knack of getting to the heart of the most complex of everyday human problems. Then, she’d come up with the most simply worded and highly potent answers. She’d do this in prose. She’d do it with a poem. For example, she appreciated the need for, and the beauty of, our diverse religious faiths. However, she recognized the danger of adherents of any one faith considering their faith the only true one for all humanity. Deftly, she steers her readers away from the dangers of divisiveness. She simply stressed the basic core of all faiths when she wrote,

So many Gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
When just the art of being kind
Is all this sad world needs."
(See here)

A quote from one of her poems, "Solitude", is still heard nowadays:

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.

And here's one of her less "jingly" poem "Preparation", much wisdom included! I detect a reflection of her Saturn/Jupiter opposition here.

We must not force events, but rather make
The heart soil ready for their coming, as
The earth spreads carpets for the feet of Spring,
Or, with the strengthening tonic of the frost,
Prepares for Winter. Should a July noon
Burst suddenly upon a frozen world
Small joy would follow, even tho' that world
Were longing for the Summer. Should the sting
Of sharp December pierce the heart of June,
What death and devastation would ensue!
All things are planned. The most majestic sphere
That whirls through space is governed and controlled
By supreme law, as is the blade of grass
Which through the bursting bosom of the earth
Creeps up to kiss the light. Poor puny man
Alone doth strive and battle with the Force
Which rules all lives and worlds, and he alone
Demands effect before producing cause.

How vain the hope! We cannot harvest joy
Until we sow the seed, and God alone
Knows when that seed has ripened. Oft we stand
And watch the ground with anxious brooding eyes
Complaining of the slow unfruitful yield,
Not knowing that the shadow of ourselves
Keeps off the sunlight and delays result.
Sometimes our fierce impatience of desire
Doth like a sultry May force tender shoots
Of half-formed pleasures and unshaped events
To ripen prematurely, and we reap
But disappointment; or we rot the germs
With briny tears ere they have time to grow.
While stars are born and mighty planets die
And hissing comets scorch the brow of space
The Universe keeps its eternal calm.
Through patient preparation, year on year,
The earth endures the travail of the Spring
And Winter's desolation. So our souls
In grand submission to a higher law
Should move serene through all the ills of life,
Believing them masked joys.


anthonynorth said...

Mysticism and poetry should be upbeat more often. I often write about doom and gloom myself, but always try to end with possible answers, and hope. We can always find something to be optimistic about.

Twilight said...

AN ~~~ Yes, I agree. You do point out the dark side frequently, but almost always refer to some positive aspect as well. :-)