The poet-tramp-novelist and the dragonfly

An old post of mine, brought to mind by the sad news of the death of Danny Kirwan of Fleetwood Mac, there’s a link to his magical song about the dragonfly in here.


No time to stand and stare. You know the quote, don’t you?

Or do you?

‘What is this life if, full of care/ we have not time to stand and stare?’

[A classic example of the importance of commas, btw, but that’s not what I’m writing about.]

It’s taken from a poem called ‘Leisure’, one of a series of ‘Songs of Joy’ by Welsh poet –and tramp and novelist – William Henry Davies. He died in 1940. The poem was published in 1911.

Among the vagaries of his life was an accident jumping freight trains in Canada that left him without a foot and needing a wooden leg. He came back across the waves at that point, living rough in London doss-houses, writing poetry, self-publishing at a time when it was far from easy.

Out of that experience he drew his book, ‘Autobiography of a Super-Tramp’ – which reminds me…

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9 Responses to The poet-tramp-novelist and the dragonfly

  1. Ricardo says:

    He was also a very underrated guitarist. He accompanied Peter Green on one of my all-time favorite instrumentals: Albatross.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have just listened to my ancient 45 of Albatross. Very crackly because I used to put it on the multi-disc record player with the holding-down arm off so it repeated again and again as I lay on my back on the settee. Turns out your brother, 3 years and a continent apart, did exactly the same thing and had no idea you liked it too. 🙂 x


    • By the way, did you read that he was homeless when he died? So sad.


  2. We’ve just been listening as well. Thank you for the prompt… we don’t tune into news media much these days, so missed the sad news.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The poem “Leisure” by W H Davies was my mum’s favourite. I remember her quoting it when I was young and discovered after she died that she had the words written down in several notebooks. I often wonder if it was because my dad was a W H Davies too. I have managed to collect a few of the poet tramps books as a tribute. Strange that she also loved “Albatross”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How odd! I shall have to look him up – perhaps Broadhursts have a copy of one of them somewhere, who knows. I don’t even know how many books he wrote, must do a bit more research. Typical journalistic attitude, a little research, expert for 5 minutes then the butterfly brain moves on, still harbouring a touch of the poet’s magic but not much retained knowledge.
      Re Ireland, btw, I am having second thoughts so please don’t go to any trouble with guides etc, I think I am too nervous to go alone and may re-site the work in north Wales 🙂 Talking about it with you and Sandra made me want to be there…
      Travel well and enjoy the real holiday!


  4. My father had the Super Tramp book and I wish I knew where it went after his death.
    I liked Albatross too…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel very ignorant for not knowing about him till so late in life. What a shame the book went missing. Albatross, so calming and beautiful.
      [And I hope things have improved in your part of the world since your last instalment.]

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think mother must have had one of her ‘clear outs’…wouldn’t have occurred to her to ask if I wanted anything.
        Things slightly more stable, thank you, but still difficult for him.


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