Sunday, November 13, 2016


Inscribed on the title page ,With love & best wishes , from Edith ,  1914 , this slim volume of  Selected Poems , by  American Ella Wheeler  Wilcox , was purchased moons ago at  a sale off  Lygon Street , Melbourne, and  has surfaced on  Magnetic  Island ,  Queensland.
With a deep interest  in  the occult, her poems   were  popular in the  New  Thought Movement.  A 1915  booklet she penned , What I know about  New Thought , sold  50,000 copies.
Her husband, Robert ,  after  30 years of  marriage , died in 1916. They had made a pact that if one of them died  they would return  and  communicate  with  the partner. As the weeks   passed without any contact   from him, her  distress  deepened. She sought the  help of the leader of the  Rosicrucian  Philosphy in California , Max Heindel , and subsequently wrote :
Mr. Heindel assured me that I would come in touch with the spirit of my husband when I learned to control my sorrow. I replied that it seemed strange to me that an omnipotent God could not send a flash of his light into a suffering soul to bring its conviction when most needed. Did you ever stand beside a clear pool of water, asked Mr. Heindel, and see the trees and skies repeated therein? And did you ever cast a stone into that pool and see it clouded and turmoiled, so it gave no reflection? Yet the skies and trees were waiting above to be reflected when the waters grew calm. So God and your husband's spirit wait to show themselves to you when the turbulence of sorrow is quieted.

Wilcox contributed to the war  effort   in 1917  in France  where she recited a poem , The Stevedores,   to  a camp of 9000  American Army stevedore ..." Here's to  the  Army Stevedores , lusty and  virile  and  strong ..."  

 Eller Wheeler was  born  on a  farm at Johnstown  ,Wisconsin , on November 5,1850 . On  the way to the governor's inaugural ball  in Madison, she sat  across from a  young  widow  dressed in  black and  comforted  her  for  the rest of  the journey . 
This  sad experience prompted her to write the opening  lines  for the  poem Solitude , for which she became well  known over the years :  Laugh, and  the world laughs with  you ; Weep , and you weep alone , For sad old earth must borrow its mirth, But has  trouble  enough  of  its  own ...The poem was  first run in  the New York Sun on February 25,1883, for which she was  paid  $5 .

 The next year  she married  Robert  Wilcox , their  only child, a boy , died   soon after birth ; they became interested in theosophy and spiritualism. Artists and  literary  types  were  entertained   at  the  Wilcox  residence.
Her autobiography , The  Worlds and I , was  published  in 1918 and she died  from   cancer  on  October 30, 1919 

The volume  shown  here  includes  Solitude  and  ends with Beyond  in which she says  that  " over  there " there  is  no  sting  in  death .   There  is a pastedown  illustration  of  a  woman holding  a fan  with the  heading  An  old Fan on  the front board  with coloured  endpaper  scenes , possibly of  Edinburgh , as it  was  published  in  that city by   W.P. Nimmon , Hay & Mitchell , printed by Morrison & Gibb Limited .