Friday, July 17, 2015

William H. 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 if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

-- William H. Davies --
from Art and Nature:  An Illustrated Anthology of Nature Poetry
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A very simple poem but a profound thought, I think.


  1. The poem reminds me of something that I have often pondered: animals unlike humans are rather blessed in that they do not know they will die, so they simply live their lives. Perhaps that is related to our need every now and then to engage in very simple pleasures (e.g., we must stop and smell the flowers -- otherwise we will go insane).

    1. R.T.,

      I've heard the same about animals. I wonder if that's why many of the Eastern traditions emphasize focus on the now--concentrate on the present moment and not spend so much time in the past or on the future.

  2. R.T.,

    I think it's getting more difficult for people today to focus on something that doesn't beep or tweet or move or rapidly change in some way--they can't focus on something that just is.

    1. That is true, Fred. I was recently at Disney World, and it was funny to see so many people staring at their phone screens there instead of looking at all the amazing sights in these amusement parks. I've been there many times, but still find new things to see when I go to Disney World. I guess they have to check their Facebook status and how many people "liked" their "I'm at Disney!" status.

    2. Cheryl,

      I've never understood this "liked" thing. It's almost as if a place or a book or anything has no real value to the individual experiencing it unless someone else "likes" it.

    3. I think the Facebook "like" concept taps into people's arrested adolescent development. Do you remember when it was a really big deal to find out in 6th grade that someone of the opposite sex "liked' you? Same concept. Hence, I have no patience with or interest in Facebook. Yeah, I'm a cynical old curmudgeon.

  3. R.T.,

    I was on Facebook a number of years ago for a few months, but didn't see any reason for staying, so I tried to leave. It took a while, but I think I finally was able to cancel my membership (at least I think I did).

    I was on Twitter also about the same time, but I got tired of the bumper-sticker level of thinking and conversing, so I dropped that also. It was my frustration with twitter that got me to try out doing a blog.