(Poem #740) The Villain
While joy gave clouds the light of stars, That beamed wher'er they looked; And calves and lambs had tottering knees, Excited, while they sucked; While every bird enjoyed his song, Without one thought of harm or wrong-- I turned my head and saw the wind, Not far from where I stood, Dragging the corn by her golden hair, Into a dark and lonely wood.
I started reading this poem, and was quickly put off by the rather weak and cliched opening - indeed, I only finished reading it because it was short. I was all the more delighted, therefore, by the beautiful and startlingly original image in the ending - not just for its own sake, but because I suddenly realised that the weakness of the opening lines was a deliberate parody of the style, an easy target that was subverted and skewered by the ending. Of course, I should have been familiar enough with Davies' work to know right away that the tone of the first few lines was highly uncharacteristic, but every poet has the occasional bad poem - which is probably true of Davies too; still, it's nice to know this wasn't it <g>. Biography: William Henry Davies, b. July 3, 1871, Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales d. Sept. 26, 1940, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, Eng. English poet whose lyrics have a force and simplicity uncharacteristic of the poetry of most of his Georgian contemporaries. After serving as apprentice to a picture framer, Davies tramped through the United States, crossed the Atlantic many times on cattle boats, lost a foot while trying to jump a train headed for the Klondike region in Canada, became a peddler and street singer in England, and, after several years of this wandering life, published his first volume, The Soul's Destroyer, and Other Poems (1905). He was then living in London. The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp (1907)--the best known of his prose works--appeared with a preface by George Bernard Shaw, followed by Nature Poems and Others (1908). His poetry includes Forty New Poems (1918), Poems 1930-31 (1932), and The Loneliest Mountain (1939). The first of the collected editions appeared in 1916. Although his work achieved wide popularity, Davies lived the life of a recluse. His Collected Poems appeared in 1942. -- EB -martin