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W.H. Davies: hobo chic

The variety and peculiarity of a Georgian Poet

  • All in June
  • A week ago I had a fire 
  • To warm my feet, my hands and face; 
  • Cold winds, that never make a friend, 
  • Crept in and out of every place.
  • Today the fields are rich in grass, 
  • And buttercups in thousands grow; 
  • I’ll show the world where I have been—
  • With gold-dust seen on either shoe.
  • Till to my garden back I come, 
  • Where bumble-bees for hours and hours 
  • Sit on their soft, fat, velvet bums, 
  • To wriggle out of hollow flowers.
  • Leisure
  • What is this life if, full of care, 
  • We have no time to stand and stare.
  • No time to stand beneath the boughs 
  • And stare as long as sheep or cows.
  • No time to see, when woods we pass, 
  • Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
  • No time to see, in broad daylight,
  • Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
  • No time to turn at Beauty’s glance, 
  • And watch her feet, how they can dance.
  • No time to wait till her mouth can 
  • Enrich that smile her eyes began.
  • A poor life this is if, full of care, 
  • We have no time to stand and stare.
  • Ale
  • Now do I hear thee weep and groan, 
  • Who hath a comrade sunk at sea? 
  • Then quaff thee of my good old ale, 
  • And it will raise him up for thee; 
  • Thoul’t think as little of him then 
  • As when he moved with living men.
  • If thou hast hopes to move the world, 
  • And every effort it doth fail, 
  • Then to thy side call Jack and Jim, 
  • And bid them drink with thee good ale; 
  • So may the world, that would not hear, 
  • Perish in hell with all your care.
  • One quart of good ale, and I 
  • Feel then what life immortal is: 
  • The brain is empty of all thought, 
  • The heart is brimming o’er with bliss; 
  • Time’s first child, Life, doth live; but Death, 
  • The second, hath not yet his breath.
W.H. Davies

W.H. Davies (1871-1940) was a Welsh poet who spent a good share of his time on earth as a tramp, wandering the United Kingdom and the United States. Despite living hand-to-mouth in a lifestyle committed to the open road, Davies was a popular poet of his day. He wrote mostly about his experiences as a hobo – the hardships, the common condition and nature of humanity, and the variety and peculiarity of individual humans. He is often associated with the Georgian Poets, who took their name from the series of anthologies in which their work appeared. Entitled Georgian Poetry, the anthologies were published between 1911-1922. However the realism reflected in Davies’ themes and his colloquial style are atypical of the group, which tended to write in a more Romantic and sentimental style.

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  • All in June
  • A week ago I had a fire 
  • To warm my feet, my hands and face; 
  • Cold winds, that never make a friend, 
  • Crept in and out of every place.
  • Today the fields are rich in grass, 
  • And buttercups in thousands grow; 
  • I’ll show the world where I have been—
  • With gold-dust seen on either shoe.
  • Till to my garden back I come, 
  • Where bumble-bees for hours and hours 
  • Sit on their soft, fat, velvet bums, 
  • To wriggle out of hollow flowers.
  • Leisure
  • What is this life if, full of care, 
  • We have no time to stand and stare.
  • No time to stand beneath the boughs 
  • And stare as long as sheep or cows.
  • No time to see, when woods we pass, 
  • Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
  • No time to see, in broad daylight,
  • Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
  • No time to turn at Beauty’s glance, 
  • And watch her feet, how they can dance.
  • No time to wait till her mouth can 
  • Enrich that smile her eyes began.
  • A poor life this is if, full of care, 
  • We have no time to stand and stare.
  • Ale
  • Now do I hear thee weep and groan, 
  • Who hath a comrade sunk at sea? 
  • Then quaff thee of my good old ale, 
  • And it will raise him up for thee; 
  • Thoul’t think as little of him then 
  • As when he moved with living men.
  • If thou hast hopes to move the world, 
  • And every effort it doth fail, 
  • Then to thy side call Jack and Jim, 
  • And bid them drink with thee good ale; 
  • So may the world, that would not hear, 
  • Perish in hell with all your care.
  • One quart of good ale, and I 
  • Feel then what life immortal is: 
  • The brain is empty of all thought, 
  • The heart is brimming o’er with bliss; 
  • Time’s first child, Life, doth live; but Death, 
  • The second, hath not yet his breath.
W.H. Davies

W.H. Davies (1871-1940) was a Welsh poet who spent a good share of his time on earth as a tramp, wandering the United Kingdom and the United States. Despite living hand-to-mouth in a lifestyle committed to the open road, Davies was a popular poet of his day. He wrote mostly about his experiences as a hobo – the hardships, the common condition and nature of humanity, and the variety and peculiarity of individual humans. He is often associated with the Georgian Poets, who took their name from the series of anthologies in which their work appeared. Entitled Georgian Poetry, the anthologies were published between 1911-1922. However the realism reflected in Davies’ themes and his colloquial style are atypical of the group, which tended to write in a more Romantic and sentimental style.

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