The apparent simplicity of these lines conceals both wisdom and a fine use of language. They are by W H Davies (1871-1940),

self-dubbed in his 1908 autobiography as a “super-tramp.”

Born in south Wales, he spent some years on the road in the USA and Canada, losing a leg en-route, train-hopping. The second-last couplet could be a description of the delight in seeing people smile again after being freed from Covid masks.



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 and 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, if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.