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Best Famous William Henry Davies Poems

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Written by William Henry Davies |

The Child and the Mariner

 A dear old couple my grandparents were, 
And kind to all dumb things; they saw in Heaven 
The lamb that Jesus petted when a child; 
Their faith was never draped by Doubt: to them 
Death was a rainbow in Eternity, 
That promised everlasting brightness soon.
An old seafaring man was he; a rough Old man, but kind; and hairy, like the nut Full of sweet milk.
All day on shore he watched The winds for sailors' wives, and told what ships Enjoyed fair weather, and what ships had storms; He watched the sky, and he could tell for sure What afternoons would follow stormy morns, If quiet nights would end wild afternoons.
He leapt away from scandal with a roar, And if a whisper still possessed his mind, He walked about and cursed it for a plague.
He took offence at Heaven when beggars passed, And sternly called them back to give them help.
In this old captain's house I lived, and things That house contained were in ships' cabins once: Sea-shells and charts and pebbles, model ships; Green weeds, dried fishes stuffed, and coral stalks; Old wooden trunks with handles of spliced rope, With copper saucers full of monies strange, That seemed the savings of dead men, not touched To keep them warm since their real owners died; Strings of red beads, methought were dipped in blood, And swinging lamps, as though the house might move; An ivory lighthouse built on ivory rocks, The bones of fishes and three bottled ships.
And many a thing was there which sailors make In idle hours, when on long voyages, Of marvellous patience, to no lovely end.
And on those charts I saw the small black dots That were called islands, and I knew they had Turtles and palms, and pirates' buried gold.
There came a stranger to my granddad's house, The old man's nephew, a seafarer too; A big, strong able man who could have walked Twm Barlum's hill all clad in iron mail So strong he could have made one man his club To knock down others -- Henry was his name, No other name was uttered by his kin.
And here he was, sooth illclad, but oh, Thought I, what secrets of the sea are his! This man knows coral islands in the sea, And dusky girls heartbroken for white men; More rich than Spain, when the Phoenicians shipped Silver for common ballast, and they saw Horses at silver mangers eating grain; This man has seen the wind blow up a mermaid's hair Which, like a golden serpent, reared and stretched To feel the air away beyond her head.
He begged my pennies, which I gave with joy -- He will most certainly return some time A self-made king of some new land, and rich.
Alas that he, the hero of my dreams, Should be his people's scorn; for they had rose To proud command of ships, whilst he had toiled Before the mast for years, and well content; Him they despised, and only Death could bring A likeness in his face to show like them.
For he drank all his pay, nor went to sea As long as ale was easy got on shore.
Now, in his last long voyage he had sailed From Plymouth Sound to where sweet odours fan The Cingalese at work, and then back home -- But came not near my kin till pay was spent.
He was not old, yet seemed so; for his face Looked like the drowned man's in the morgue, when it Has struck the wooden wharves and keels of ships.
And all his flesh was pricked with Indian ink, His body marked as rare and delicate As dead men struck by lightning under trees And pictured with fine twigs and curlèd ferns; Chains on his neck and anchors on his arms; Rings on his fingers, bracelets on his wrist; And on his breast the Jane of Appledore Was schooner rigged, and in full sail at sea.
He could not whisper with his strong hoarse voice, No more than could a horse creep quietly; He laughed to scorn the men that muffled close For fear of wind, till all their neck was hid, Like Indian corn wrapped up in long green leaves; He knew no flowers but seaweeds brown and green, He knew no birds but those that followed ships.
Full well he knew the water-world; he heard A grander music there than we on land, When organ shakes a church; swore he would make The sea his home, though it was always roused By such wild storms as never leave Cape Horn; Happy to hear the tempest grunt and squeal Like pigs heard dying in a slaughterhouse.
A true-born mariner, and this his hope -- His coffin would be what his cradle was, A boat to drown in and be sunk at sea; Salted and iced in Neptune's larder deep.
This man despised small coasters, fishing-smacks; He scorned those sailors who at night and morn Can see the coast, when in their little boats They go a six days' voyage and are back Home with their wives for every Sabbath day.
Much did he talk of tankards of old beer, And bottled stuff he drank in other lands, Which was a liquid fire like Hell to gulp, But Paradise to sip.
And so he talked; Nor did those people listen with more awe To Lazurus -- whom they had seen stone dead -- Than did we urchins to that seaman's voice.
He many a tale of wonder told: of where, At Argostoli, Cephalonia's sea Ran over the earth's lip in heavy floods; And then again of how the strange Chinese Conversed much as our homely Blackbirds sing.
He told us how he sailed in one old ship Near that volcano Martinique, whose power Shook like dry leaves the whole Caribbean seas; And made the sun set in a sea of fire Which only half was his; and dust was thick On deck, and stones were pelted at the mast.
Into my greedy ears such words that sleep Stood at my pillow half the night perplexed.
He told how isles sprang up and sank again, Between short voyages, to his amaze; How they did come and go, and cheated charts; Told how a crew was cursed when one man killed A bird that perched upon a moving barque; And how the sea's sharp needles, firm and strong, Ripped open the bellies of big, iron ships; Of mighty icebergs in the Northern seas, That haunt the far hirizon like white ghosts.
He told of waves that lift a ship so high That birds could pass from starboard unto port Under her dripping keel.
Oh, it was sweet To hear that seaman tell such wondrous tales: How deep the sea in parts, that drownèd men Must go a long way to their graves and sink Day after day, and wander with the tides.
He spake of his own deeds; of how he sailed One summer's night along the Bosphorus, And he -- who knew no music like the wash Of waves against a ship, or wind in shrouds -- Heard then the music on that woody shore Of nightingales,and feared to leave the deck, He thought 'twas sailing into Paradise.
To hear these stories all we urchins placed Our pennies in that seaman's ready hand; Until one morn he signed on for a long cruise, And sailed away -- we never saw him more.
Could such a man sink in the sea unknown? Nay, he had found a land with something rich, That kept his eyes turned inland for his life.
'A damn bad sailor and a landshark too, No good in port or out' -- my granddad said.

Written by William Henry Davies |

Come Let Us Find

 Come, let us find a cottage, love, 
That's green for half a mile around; 
To laugh at every grumbling bee, 
Whose sweetest blossom's not yet found.
Where many a bird shall sing for you, And in your garden build its nest: They'll sing for you as though their eggs Were lying in your breast, My love-- Were lying warm in your soft breast.
'Tis strange how men find time to hate, When life is all too short for love; But we, away from our own kind, A different life can live and prove.
And early on a summer's morn, As I go walking out with you, We'll help the sun with our warm breath To clear away the dew, My love, To clear away the morning dew.

Written by William Henry Davies |

The Best Friend

  Now shall I walk 
Or shall I ride? 
"Ride", Pleasure said; 
"Walk", Joy replied.
Now what shall I -- Stay home or roam? "Roam", Pleasure said; And Joy -- "stay home.
" Now shall I dance, Or sit for dreams? "Sit," answers Joy; "Dance," Pleasure screams.
Which of ye two Will kindest be? Pleasure laughed sweet, But Joy kissed me.

Written by William Henry Davies |

Thunderstorms

 My mind has thunderstorms,
That brood for heavy hours:
Until they rain me words,
My thoughts are drooping flowers
And sulking, silent birds.
Yet come, dark thunderstorms, And brood your heavy hours; For when you rain me words, My thoughts are dancing flowers And joyful singing birds.

Written by William Henry Davies |

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.

Written by William Henry Davies |

Leisure

 What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
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.
A poor life this is if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.

Written by William Henry Davies |

A Greeting

 Good morning, Life--and all 
Things glad and beautiful.
My pockets nothing hold, But he that owns the gold, The Sun, is my great friend-- His spending has no end.
Hail to the morning sky, Which bright clouds measure high; Hail to you birds whose throats Would number leaves by notes; Hail to you shady bowers, And you green field of flowers.
Hail to you women fair, That make a show so rare In cloth as white as milk-- Be't calico or silk: Good morning, Life--and all Things glad and beautiful.

Written by William Henry Davies |

Aprils Charms

 When April scatters charms of primrose gold 
Among the copper leaves in thickets old, 
And singing skylarks from the meadows rise, 
To twinkle like black stars in sunny skies;

When I can hear the small woodpecker ring 
Time on a tree for all the birds that sing; 
And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long -- 
The simple bird that thinks two notes a song;

When I can hear the woodland brook, that could 
Not drown a babe, with all his threatening mood; 
Upon these banks the violets make their home, 
And let a few small strawberry vlossoms come:

When I go forth on such a pleasant day, 
One breath outdoors takes all my cares away; 
It goes like heavy smoke, when flames take hold 
Of wood that's green and fill a grate with gold.

Written by William Henry Davies |

The Dark Hour

 And now, when merry winds do blow, 
And rain makes trees look fresh, 
An overpowering staleness holds 
This mortal flesh.
Though well I love to feel the rain, And be by winds well blown -- The mystery of mortal life Doth press me down.
And, In this mood, come now what will, Shine Rainbow, Cuckoo call; There is no thing in Heaven or Earth Can lift my soul.
I know not where this state comes from -- No cause for grief I know; The Earth around is fresh and green, Flowers near me grow.
I sit between two fair rose trees; Red roses on my right, And on my left side roses are A lovely white.
The little birds are full of joy, Lambs bleating all the day; The colt runs after the old mare, And children play.
And still there comes this dark, dark hour -- Which is not borne of Care; Into my heart it creeps before I am aware.

Written by William Henry Davies |

In the Country

 This life is sweetest; in this wood 
I hear no children cry for food; 
I see no woman, white with care; 
No man, with muscled wasting here.
No doubt it is a selfish thing To fly from human suffering; No doubt he is a selfish man, Who shuns poor creatures, sad and wan.
But 'tis a wretched life to face Hunger in almost every place; Cursed with a hand that's empty, when The heart is full to help all men.
Can I admire the statue great, When living men starve at its feet! Can I admire the park's green tree, A roof for homeless misery!

Written by William Henry Davies |

A Plain Life

 No idle gold -- since this fine sun, my friend, 
Is no mean miser, but doth freely spend.
No prescious stones -- since these green mornings show, Without a charge, their pearls where'er I go.
No lifeless books -- since birds with their sweet tongues Will read aloud to me their happier songs.
No painted scenes -- since clouds can change their skies A hundred times a day to please my eyes.
No headstrong wine -- since, when I drink, the spring Into my eager ears will softly sing.
No surplus clothes -- since every simple beast Can teach me to be happy with the least.

Written by William Henry Davies |

Money

 When I had money, money, O!
I knew no joy till I went poor;
For many a false man as a friend
Came knocking all day at my door.
Then felt I like a child that holds A trumpet that he must not blow Because a man is dead; I dared Not speak to let this false world know.
Much have I thought of life, and seen How poor men’s hearts are ever light; And how their wives do hum like bees About their work from morn till night.
So, when I hear these poor ones laugh, And see the rich ones coldly frown— Poor men, think I, need not go up So much as rich men should come down.
When I had money, money, O! My many friends proved all untrue; But now I have no money, O! My friends are real, though very few.

Written by William Henry Davies |

Ale

 Now do I hear thee weep and groan, 
Who hath a comrade sunk at sea? 
Then quaff thee of my good old ale, 
And it will raise him up for thee; 
Thoul't think as little of him then 
As when he moved with living men.
If thou hast hopes to move the world, And every effort it doth fail, Then to thy side call Jack and Jim, And bid them drink with thee good ale; So may the world, that would not hear, Perish in hell with all your care.
One quart of good ale, and I Feel then what life immortal is: The brain is empty of all thought, The heart is brimming o'er with bliss; Time's first child, Life, doth live; but Death, The second, hath not yet his breath.
Give me a quart of good old ale, Am I a homeless man on earth? Nay, I want not your roof and quilt, I'll lie warm at the moon's cold hearth; No grumbling ghost to grudge my bed, His grave, ha! ha! holds up my head.

Written by William Henry Davies |

The Rain

 I hear leaves drinking rain; 
I hear rich leaves on top 
Giving the poor beneath 
Drop after drop; 
'Tis a sweet noise to hear 
These green leaves drinking near.
And when the Sun comes out, After this Rain shall stop, A wondrous Light will fill Each dark, round drop; I hope the Sun shines bright; 'Twill be a lovely sight.

Written by William Henry Davies |

The Moon

 The moon has a face like the clock in the hall; 
She shines on thieves on the garden wall, 
On streets and fields and harbour quays, 
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.
The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse, The howling dog by the door of the house, The bat that lies in bed at noon, All love to be out by the light of the moon.
But all of the things that belong to the day Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way; And flowers and children close their eyes Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.