I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

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?