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The Villain -- W H Davies

(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.
-- W H Davies
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

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>.


  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


14 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Ilza said...

Sorry but I beg to differ
Davies did not live "the life of a reclusive"
- on the contrary, he used to travel a lot .

Martin DeMello said...

--- Ilza wrote:
> Sorry but I beg to differ
> Davies did not live "the life of a reclusive"
> - on the contrary, he used to travel a lot .
> ilza

I was just quoting the Encyclopaedia Britannica article. I think the 'recluse'
refers to his later life - if you read the rest of the biography, it does
indeed say that he travelled a lot earlier on.


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