For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Super Tramp


There's a long history of parody and pastiche in literature - from Cervantes to Wendy Cope. And it's not often you find these two writers sharing the same sentence! Yesterday's parody of WH Davies (1871-1940) was a little unfair. I actually like Davies's poem and did not really intend to mock it - as parodies usually do - but to use it as a way of taking a poke at the Dreadful Vice of Shopping (Outdoors shops excluded, naturally). Davies's original poem Leisure (What is this life if, full of care,/We have no time to stand and stare? etc) has been much-anthologised, though it's difficult to recall another poem of his that stands out - most of them fall into the category of unmemorable 'Georgian' verse. But I do remember reading some years ago his acclaimed memoir The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp (1908), an account of 6 years (1893-99) during which Davies begged and walked and jumped trains across North America, genuinely living as a hobo. This life of vagrancy led to the loss of a leg when he tried to jump a train in Canada and miscalculated. And on the subject of legs, my own's horizontal and healing nicely!

3 comments:

Weird Darren said...

Wow this brings back memories, I read this book as part of my English Lit 'O' Level many many moons ago.
Fantastic book, will have to get again and re-read. Thanks for reminding me of it.

The Solitary Walker said...

Want to re-read it myself now too... Always associate it with Woody Guthrie's "Bound for Glory" which is also fantastic...

John Hee said...

Now where did I put my copy?