Leisure by W.H Davies


William Henry Davies or W. H. Davies (3 July 1871– 26 September 1940) was a Welsh poet and writer.

  • Poems are written based on his experience as a tramp and the many different characters he encountered along the way.
  • His first poems were published whe he was 34 years old.
  • His poems highlight nature’s beauty based and his observations on the hardship in life.Wrote two novels and autobiographical works. His best known novel is the Autobiography of a Super-Tramp
  • He died in 1940.

Synopsis The poem “Leisure” by William Henry Davies is about life. Life can be hectic sometimes. However, we must make time top enjoy life. Slowing down to enjoy nature is a way to live life meaningfully. Leisure, or free time, is time spent away from businesswork, and domestic chores. It is also the periods of time before or after necessary activities such as eatingsleeping and, where it is compulsory, education. Paraphrase of the poemThe poem ‘Leisure’ is divided into seven rhyming couplets. Couplet 1:

  • The poet, W. H. Davies, begins by questioning the purpose of a life which is so full of worry that it does not allow us any time to simply stand still and watch the world go by.
  • In the next few couplets, he describes the various things that people are not able to do due to lack of leisure.

Couplet 2:

  • Sheep and cows can often be seen standing still in vast open fields and staring into a distance. People living a busy life would not posses the leisure to stand under the branches of trees and keep staring into space.

Couplet 3:

  • W. H. Davies further adds that when such people pass a forest or a woodland, they would be in too much of a hurry to notice the nooks and crannies in the grass where squirrels conceal their nuts. They would not posses the leisure to notice the various aspects of the natural world around them.

Couplet 4:

  • In daylight, streams appear to be sparkling under the effect of sunshine making it seem as if the streams are full of stars like the night sky. However, such beauties of nature are likely to be missed by people overburdened by anxiety and living a life of haste without any leisure.

Couplets 5 and 6:

  • The poet states that the rush of life provides people with no leisure to turn at the glance of a beautiful girl and marvel at her dancing feet.They are unable to leisurely observe her as her mouth shapes out a smile that started from her eyes.

Couplet 7: In the final couplet  states that a life which is so bogged down by worry that it allows one no time for leisure is indeed a miserable life. It means that we have a poor life if we have no time to relax physically or mentally. Summary

  • Life should not be about working so much that we have no time to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. We are so caught up in our work routine and mundane schedule that we do not know how to break away. We should slow down and take a look at things around us because life goes by fast and we do not want to miss a thing. Sometimes, the mind should be free of work stress so that we can we enjoy the beauty of the little pleasures of life. We all get so caught up in the ways of the world that we become emotionally blind to what is going on. We are not alert of our surroundings. We focus so much on the things that bring us trouble and not enough time on what makes us happy. Life becomes meaningless if we do not learn to set aside time for ourselves and our families.


  • Set in the countryside
  • Persona wonders why man i s so busy that he lets life to pass him by and does not make any attempt to appreciate nature.


  • stream full of stars – gives the picture of a stream shimmering under the sun.
  • Beauty has ‘feet, how they can dance’ and ‘enrich that smile’ gives the picture of a beautiful, graceful woman.


  • “And stare as long as sheep or cows”
  • “Like stars at night”


  • We should take time off from our daily work to enjoy nature.
  • Nature has many beautiful things that we can appreciate if we take the trouble and time.
  • Learn to relax and enjoy the simple pleasure of life.
  • Learn to observe the little and beautiful things around us.
  • Enrich and expand our minds with the beauty of nature.

Moral values

  • We need to take advantage of our free time to live a better lifestyle.
  • We should use leisure creatively to strengthen our minds and hearts.
  • We should take note of the beautiful things around us.
  • Enrich and expand our minds with the beauty of nature.

Practice 1
1.Who is the persona in the poem?
2.What does he think of life today as is mentioned in the first stanza?
Practice 2
1. Explain the phrase stand and stare.
2. Why is the phrase stand and stare repeated in the first and last stanza?
Practice 3
1. In the second stanza, what do we fail to do? 2. Explain the imagery of streams full of stars.
Practice 4
1. Why do we fail to see when we pass the woods.
2. Why do you think the persona mentions sheep or cows?
Practice 5
1. How is Beauty personified?
2. Why do you think the persona describes life today as poor?


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13 thoughts on “Leisure by W.H Davies

  1. hai , thank you for this info about the poem :)
    i really understand through this web site :DD
    thanks a lot :)

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