Analysis of William Henry Davies 's Leisure : Fine Sympathy with Man and Nature




 Leisure is a simple yet beautiful and thought provoking poem written by William Henry Davies. In this poem, the poet wonders whether it is worth leading a life which provides one with no time for leisure. It is humanity's inability to "feel" nature that most concerns the poet of Leisure . Our obsession with the material worth has made us insensible to the beauties of nature. The consumer culture has made it impossible for us to appreciate the simple beauties of the world around us and stolen our leisure. Thus, The appearance of William Henry Davies 's Leisure  is bombastic truisms, the inference must be that their sensibilities are not delicate enough to recognize the fresh, strong, healthy presentation of common things in a way that revivifies them, the generous aspiration, the fine sympathy with man and nature, the buoyant belief in immortality, which are no less characteristic of the author than his mistaken boldness in displaying the carnal side of existence, and his particularity in describing disease or loathsome decay. Read More Poetry Mr.W. H. Davies is a poet: abundant authority, both creative and critical, has recorded itself on the affirmative side. 


  Leisure is a beauty in lovingly woven verse makes us experience beyond the poet's smiling eyes suspending time and granting us a space where busying fear led thoughts fade to gentle dust. We see it as a kind of prayer from beyond this egocentric life that is answered in an instant sweetened moment of understanding .Take time to stand and share in nature and you will soon rediscover simple truths and the bliss of being alive. The spirit of this poem is magical.  The  poet   says that the entire natural world lies so beautiful yet we are not in harmony or unison with nature. Here the collage of nature stands as representatives for everything in the natural world. 






 Leisure is divided into seven simple rhyming couplets. The poet, W. H. Davies, begins by questioning the purpose of a life which is so full of worry that it does not allow us any time to simply stand still and watch the world go by:

“What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.”

 In the next few couplets, he describes the various things that people are not able to do due to lack of leisure.



Next, we find sheep and cows can often be seen standing still in vast open fields and staring into a distance. People living a busy life would not possess the Leisure to stand under the branches of trees and keep gazing on and on like such ruminants:

“No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.”

 W. H. Davies further adds that when such people pass a forest or woodland, they would be in too much of a hurry to notice the nooks and crannies in the grass where squirrels conceal their nuts. They would not possess the Leisure to notice the various aspects of the natural world around them:

“No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.”

 In daylight, streams appear to be sparkling under the effect of sunshine making it seem as if the streams are full of stars like the night sky. However, such beauties of nature are likely to be missed by people overburdened by anxiety and living a life of haste without any leisure, remarks W.H. Davies:

“No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.”

 There are two ways of looking at the fifth and sixth couplets of the poem: literally and metaphorically.

Looking at it literally, we can easily add that the poet states that the rush of life provides people with no Leisure to turn at the glance of a beautiful maiden and marvel at her dancing feet. They are unable to leisurely observe her as her mouth shapes out a smile that started from her eyes.

 Looking at it metaphorically, W.H. Davies has personified the beauty of the world around us which many often fail to observe due to a lack of leisure. The dancing feet and enchanting smile refers to various aspects of the beauty around us:

“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.”

In the final couplet of the poem, Davies states that a life which is so bogged down by worry that it allows one no time for Leisure is indeed a miserable life. If read the first couplet of Leisure carefully, we will notice that although it ends with a full stop, (and is hence in the form of a statement) it can also be interpreted as a question asked by the poet. In that case, the final couplet can be seen as W. H. Davies’ answer to his own question:

“A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.”



W.H. Davies impliedly complains that people are no longer moved by the nature, and he tells us that he'd rather be a part of nature and live their likes. At least that way he would be able to see something in nature less depressing than the gross consumerism that is at the root of humanity's alienation from nature. His preference for naturalism also reflects a desire for a nature from which we are barred off. Farther, in  Leisure, W.H. Davies explores the importance of Leisure of everyday life. The speaker begins by asking a rhetorical question, “What is life?” This begins a continuous, slow, and harmonious rhythm Davies emphasizes the fact that you need to disregard the things that aren’t truly important and to pace yourself. Furthermore, Davies gives details of having time by comparing us busy humans to “Sheep or cows” that leisurely spend their time. In the fourth couplet, he says that there are streams full of stars, yet people are so busy, that we are “blind in the day”. We are so busy, that we may miss vital and important information in life. The author concludes his poem by answering his earlier question, “A poor life this,” if full of care, there is no time to stand and stare. Henceforth, people need Leisure to experience the benefits of nature and the bliss of being alive. To conclude here it might be echoed of Wordsworth’s words that the ‘the world is too much with us like that of a burden which need a long vacation of Leisure.