William Henry Davies
Biography of William Henry Davies
William Henry Davies was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales. His father was, at the time a Publican. He was brought up by his grandparents in The Church House inn. After an apprenticeship as a picture-frame maker and a series of labouring jobs, he travelled to America, first to New York and then to the Klondike.
He returned to England after an accident whilst jumping a train in Canada, he lost a foot. Upon his return to Britain he led a poor, hard life living in London lodging houses and as a pedlar in the country. He married in 1923, Helen, who was much younger than he. His first poems were published when he was 34.
Most of his poetry is on the subject of nature or life on the road and exhibits a natural simple, earthy style. He also wrote two novels and autobiographical works, his best known being Autobiography of a Super-Tramp
He died in 1940.
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William Henry Davies Poems
What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. No time to stand beneath the boughs
When I had money, money, O! I knew no joy till I went poor; For many a false man as a friend Came knocking all day at my door.
Joy And Pleasure
Now, joy is born of parents poor, And pleasure of our richer kind; Though pleasure's free, she cannot sing As sweet a song as joy confined.
A Plain Life
No idle gold -- since this fine sun, my friend, Is no mean miser, but doth freely spend. No prescious stones -- since these green mornings show,
Come, Let Us Find
Come, let us find a cottage, love, That's green for half a mile around; To laugh at every grumbling bee, Whose sweetest blossom's not yet found.
The Best Friend
Now shall I walk Or shall I ride? "Ride", Pleasure said; "Walk", Joy replied.
A Fleeting Passion
Thou shalt not laugh, thou shalt not romp, Let's grimly kiss with bated breath; As quietly and solemnly As Life when it is kissing Death.
When April scatters charms of primrose gold Among the copper leaves in thickets old, And singing skylarks from the meadows rise, To twinkle like black stars in sunny skies;
If I were gusty April now, How I would blow at laughing Rose; I'd make her ribbons slip their knots, And all her hair come loose.
Indeed this is the sweet life! my hand Is under no proud man's command; There is no voice to break my rest Before a bird has left its nest;
Rich Or Poor
With thy true love I have more wealth Than Charon's piled-up bank doth hold; Where he makes kings lay down their crowns And life-long misers leave their gold.
In The Country
This life is sweetest; in this wood I hear no children cry for food; I see no woman, white with care; No man, with muscled wasting here.
It was the Rainbow gave thee birth, And left thee all her lovely hues; And, as her mother’s name was Tears, So runs it in my blood to choose
A Great Time
Sweet Chance, that led my steps abroad, Beyond the town, where wild flowers grow -- A rainbow and a cuckoo, Lord, How rich and great the times are now!
The Worms' Contempt
What do we earn for all our gentle grace?
A body stiff and cold from foot to face.
If you have beauty, what is beauty worth?
A mask to hide it, made of common earth.
What do we get for all our song and prattle?
A gasp for longer breath, and then a rattle.