Leisure by William Davies (An Analysis)

leisure by william henry davies

“Leisure” by William Davies is a thought-provoking poem. The title of the poem “Leisure” is ironic as it denotes the idea of relaxation i.e., perfect peace but modern man is fully entrapped in worries of life. The poem throws light on the bleak condition of modern man. Modern man has got so busy in his daily pursuits of life that he has no time to enjoy the beauty of nature spread around. He had lost peace of mind and comfort of heart. Despite the development of science and technology, he has become artificial and mechanical. He is bereft of true meanings of satisfaction and feelings of the heart. The poet describes the pathetic condition of modern man by comparing his life with that of natural beauty. He convincingly poses a question to the reader and then he himself concludes that man’s life is poor if full of cares.

The poet says in “Leisure” that we cannot enjoy squirrel’s movements while passing through a forest. We deprive ourselves of simple ordinary pleasures that can be drawn from the objects of Nature. In the broad daylight, we do not derive pleasure from the clear transparent running water of streams, which is as attractive and fascinating as the sky full of shining stars at night. Our sense of appreciation has been blunted and we neither look joyfully at the beautiful face of a pretty girl nor admire her agile dancing feet.

Explanation with context

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

The above lines divert our attention to the sad plight of us. We are unable to stand leisurely under shady trees like animals. We miss a lot of things. Nature is always ready to give us a smoothing effect but we remain absorbed in material pursuits. The non-availability of time is an obstacle between us and natural beauty. The poet considers this sort of life meaningless, which is devoid of the beauties of nature. We are always under the pressure of different cares. When we pass near the natural scenes, we see little that surrounds us. The world ‘stare’ emphasizes this fact. Here man proves worse than animals. The poet advises us to have spare time to look around ourselves.

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

In these lines, Beauty has been personified. The beauty assumes the form of the prettiest girl who is dancing in an alluring manner. Even then modern man finds it difficult to shift his attention towards her dancing movements. Man can’t stop enjoying her charming and mesmerizing movements. It indicates how his confusion and perplexing nature. The sense of appreciation of man has been blunted. He is in the circle of wealth with disturbing thoughts. The busy life has detained man from entering in the world of irresistible beauty.

A poor life this if , full of care
We have no time to stand and stare

These are the concluding lines (Leisure Poem), which form the basis idea of the poem. The poet laments the life of modern man. He says modern man’s life is miserable despite having everything. Ironically enough, the cost of living is rising up and the chance of living is going down. So he is surrounded by disturbed thoughts like bad weather. Busy life has thrown him in the sea of materialism. The there is a huge distortion in the shape of normal life. That’s why the poet considers such life poor and pathetic.

Some Questions and Answers

Question: What are some of the simple delights we miss in our rushed life?

Answer: There are a number of simple delights, which we fail to enjoy because of our blunted aesthetics. We can see the scattered delights around us in the natural objects. We fail to notice the squirrel’s movements while passing through a forest. And, we don’t see things around us as much as cows or sheep can gaze. We ignore beautiful flowers, shady trees, and green grass. Also, We remain indifferent to chirping of birds, grazing of animals and fluttering of butterfly. We cannot enjoy the beauty of transparent stream water, which is fascinating like the sky full of shining stars at night. Likewise in our hurry we do not pay attention to the dancing movements of pretty lass. Thus we utterly ignore the natural objects surrounding us in large variety.

Question: How can modern man escape from worries of life (Leisure Poem)?

Answer: By becoming less materialist modern man can avoid the worries of life. Material pursuits have trapped him in a net of cares. Having enough time to look around him can release him from the humdrum of life. The real satisfaction is implied in spiritual contents but modern man has opened his portals to material gains. It is the dilemma of modern man that he is imprisoned in his own shell. He is always worried about how he can increase the speed of his rat race for earning money. Ironically enough, the cost of living is going up and the chance of living is going down.

Modern man fails to realize that despite material progress, he will remain empty-handed. It is safe to say that modern man should turn to natural objects in order to overcome the cares of life. He should bewitch his aesthetic sense by natural phenomena. Nature has an inexhaustible fund of serenity provided modern man decide to enjoy its fruits. Otherwise, his life is as the poet says:

What is this life if full of care
We have not time to stand and stare

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