The progression of science has rendered modern man a machine. Man has become a slave to time. No longer does mankind have any grasp to his primordial roots. William Henry Davies, a Georgian poet, realized mankind’s rapid transformation from quaint little farmers to massive cities of industrialization in the year 1911 with his eye opening poem “Leisure.” In William Henry Davies’s poem “Leisure,” time spent enjoying simple beauties is cherished and regarded as a forgotten pastime; Davies presents a cheery nostalgic tone with a short and crisp rhyme pattern that promotes joyful imagery within the reader and creates a humbling perspective on humanity.
The structure of “Leisure” is very simplistic. The poem is comprised of only seven couplets. Even the words Davies uses throughout the poem are simple. One could argue that Davies uses simple words in order to broaden his audience. A more complex interpretation of Davies choice of simplicity relates to the naturalistic theme of the poem. Like the structure of the poem, the interactions with nature demonstrated in the poem such as watching “squirrels hide their nuts in grass” (6) are unsophisticated. By using a simplistic structure and a simplistic word choice Davies reinforces the human necessity to appreciate the simple beauties in nature.
The repetition of the phrase “no time” (2) is used throughout the poem as indication of mankind’s dilemma. Davies realized mankind’s technology obsessd world back in 1911. One can only imagine what Davies would think of the world today. By stating that man has no time anymore to “stand and stare” (14), Davies is stating that humans “care” (13) to much about becoming prosperous in wealth. Davies, in a sense, is using satire to make nonsense of the way humans live as if they are most important beings in the world. Davies realizes how insignificant we all are in the grand scheme of the universe, and his transcendent thought is an underlying theme of the poem that can only be felt instead of understood.
Davies uses metaphor to exaggerate mankind’s forgotten parent Mother Nature. The word “Beauty” (9) in line nine is capitalized as if it is a name. Beauty is a metaphor but also a name for Mother Nature. Using Beauty as name for Mother Nature is a very powerful statement. Davies is basically stating that the epitome of beauty, the virtue of beauty, is Mother Nature.
Even though man made technology is incredible in itself Davies realizes that nothing can be as incredible as even the most simplistic events in nature. Take for example rain or even the weather in general. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, they are all forms of weather. It is impossible for even the most creative of humans to fathom a form of weather totally unrelated to previous forms of weather. Every piece of technology humans create relates back to nature somehow. Every piece of technology mankind crafts is just a manipulation of the nature that was previously there. Nothing humans create can derive from something other than what is found in nature; therefore, the greatest piece of the entire everlasting universe is and always will be nature.
By using the structure of the poem as a symbol for the unique simplicity of nature, an expansive form of imagery is placed forward upon the reader. Davies truly is a poetic genius for using the extremely clever technique. It is weird to ponder how Davies was scared of industrialization’s impact on humanity a century ago when industrialization today has transformed into the mammoth giant of globalization. Davies’s poem “Leisure” is a truly incredible timeless classic of a poem as it will have the same humbling theme of nature’s supremacy forever.