Leisure, William Henry Davies – an analysis


This word always makes me think of school swimming lessons…

Gut Reaction
Ooh I like it! What’s the point of living if you’re so busy to stop and appreciate all the good things around you?

What does it all mean?
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
If you work so hard, or are so busy filling life with things you ‘must’ do, that you don’t have time to just stop once in a while, and look, and drink it all in, take a pause. Then what is the point?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
I like to think of this as a nod to nature – if you don’t have time to appreciate nature then you’re living wrong.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
Still nodding at nature, woo! I’m all up for a walk in the woods, in fact I’d quite like to take a nap in one right now, bury my head in the leaves and confuse the squirrels. It’s almost as if we’re saying here, yes, we acknowledge that there’s woods there, lovely, yes, but we simply must keep going and do **insert menial task here under the bracket of must** – so we miss out on the details – in this case, the squirrels and their nut foraging

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
This author has spent some time meandering a stream or two, hasn’t he? He must have, to grasp so beautifully the way the water ripples and churns up light patches of light that twinkle and sparkle like the stars at night. I love it!

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
If you’re so busy, doing your stuff, then will you always miss out on meeting someone? Or worse still; will you be lucky enough to find them but be too busy to appreciate them?

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
This author’s clearly been studying the person he loves too, judging by this couplet. If you only have a moment to glance and see the smile on someone’s lips, perhaps you’ll miss all the nuances that led to it: what else are you missing out on?

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
A repeat of the first couplet and a very valid point indeed!

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
Seven couplets citing examples of what we’re missing out on in life if we’re just too busy to appreciate it.

Whimsical but making a valid point.

Suggested rhyme scheme

Similes and metaphors
Beauty – love of your life?

Author’s relationship with their subject
He’s very fond of nature and all the good things about life; I’d say he’s in love with living and wonders why we’re not too.

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
Only adding to the opinion that the author spent a lot of time in nature musing rhetorical questions such as this one.

Signing off
This is such a sweet little poem, isn’t it? It’s soft, full of love for life, so appreciative of what there is out there to see if only we give ourselves time to see it. Sometimes it really does feel that we’re so busy doing things so that we can live, that we miss the point of living at all. Perhaps we can’t all go around and spend our days idly staring into streams and up at clouds, but why don’t we give ourselves enough time in our schedules to do that from time to time? What’s the point of living will all we do is just exist?

Loved this poem a lot 🙂


Poem Hunter

When I read this I think of the song… If I didn’t put It’s a wonderful world here, it would be fairly criminal, wouldn’t it?


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