Thursday, February 19, 2009


All of you know the world-famous first two lines of this poem but how

many know the rest of the poem or the author's name? For you, dear reader, here 'tis:


Laugh and the world laughs with you;

Weep, and you weep alone.

For the sad old earth must borrow it its mirth,

But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer;

Sigh, it is lost on the air.

They bound to a joyful sound,

But shrink from voicing care.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

OK, the rest of the poem does not approach the lyrical

first two lines and it sounds like 19th century melancholy;

well, it is just that. But the first two lines resonate in the

memory like few others. Ms. Wheeler died in 1919 but we

will never forget these two lines. A my fifth-grade teacher,

Miss Dazzlerag used to say to me, "Fungo infections are

spread by Little League teams!" Well, no, that's not it.

She said, "Remember, Count...marry a seamstress and

she will keep you in stitches!" She had slipped her moorings

a few years back but she was a laugh a minute and had crying

fits on the hour. Yet she was a cultured and charming lady and she

chose one of us every year to be her "teacher's pet" ; it was my

good fortune to be chosen during the year I spent in her class.

Actually, the rest of the boys in the class got together and promised me a

quarter from each every day if I would be the "teacher's pet." This was an

offer the Count couldn't refuse. My duties consisted of dusting the

blackboard erasers and staying after school occassionally to listen to

her troubles with the staff, the principal, and her boy friend, the town

banker. In return, I got grades above my actual efforts and an upclose

look at a lovely squirrel. She later married her long time romance,

the town banker, and retired from trying to civilize little hellions

like us and settled down to a life of leisure and culture. Soon, she became

the belle dame of society and produced three well-mannered hellions of

her own. She reminded everyone that... a "lady" is a "lady" is a "lady."

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