Best Famous William Henry Davies Poems

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Written by William Henry Davies | Create an image from this poem

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 | Create an image from this poem

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 | Create an image from this poem

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 | Create an image from this poem

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 | Create an image from this poem

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 | Create an image from this poem

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 | Create an image from this poem

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 | Create an image from this poem

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 | Create an image from this poem

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 | Create an image from this poem

The Moon

 Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou seemest most charming to my sight;
As I gaze upon thee in the sky so high,
A tear of joy does moisten mine eye.
Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light, Thou cheerest the Esquimau in the night; For thou lettest him see to harpoon the fish, And with them he makes a dainty dish.
Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light, Thou cheerest the fox in the night, And lettest him see to steal the grey goose away Out of the farm-yard from a stack of hay.
Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light, Thou cheerest the farmer in the night, and makes his heart beat high with delight As he views his crops by the light in the night.
Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light, Thou cheerest the eagle in the night, And lettest him see to devour his prey And carry it to his nest away.
Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light, Thou cheerest the mariner in the night As he paces the deck alone, Thinking of his dear friends at home.
Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light, Thou cheerest the weary traveller in the night; For thou lightest up the wayside around To him when he is homeward bound.
Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light, Thou cheerest the lovers in the night As they walk through the shady groves alone, Making love to each other before they go home.
Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light, Thou cheerest the poacher in the night; For thou lettest him see to set his snares To catch the rabbit and the hares.
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