The Welsh poet William Henry Davies wrote the poem ‘Leisure’, which famously begins:‘What is this life if, full of care,/We have no time to stand and stare.’

The poem’s theme is reflected in Davies’s own outdoor life, which was unconventional. Leaving Wales, he worked and begged his way across America, losing a leg in an accident when jumping from a train. He returned to England and, unfit for physical work, dedicated himself to making a living as a writer. His first collection of poems attracted influential admirers, such as George Bernard Shaw, who helped Davies publish a successful memoir, The Autobiography of a Super Tramp, which dealt with his life travelling across America.

By 1929 his popularity and literary reputation led to the award of an honorary degree from the University of Wales and, ten years later, his home town of Newport unveiled a plaque in his honour.

Poems by W. H. Davies

The Inquest

Read by Simon Armitage
The Inquest - W. H. Davies - Read by Simon Armitage

Books by W. H. Davies



Honorary Degree - University of Wales

Prize website