William Henry Davies (1871–1940) was a Welsh poet and writer. He was also a traveller and adventurer, often living on his wits as a tramp and itinerant labourer. After a serious accident while attempting to board a train in eastern Canada while on the way to the Klondike Gold Fields he returned to London and began to write. He would become one of the most popular poets of his time with his work championed by both Edward Thomas and George Bernard Shaw.
Famous for his prose memoir The Autobiography of a Super-tramp, he is best-known as a poet for ‘Leisure’, a hymn to living slow and having ‘time to stand and stare’. Saints and Lodgers offers an introduction to the wide range of Davies’s poetry which lies beyond his famous reputation. Here are hymns to the beauty of his native south Wales and to the natural world, poems in praise of lives lived on the margins and on the streets, drinking songs and songs of the sea. More than anything, as Newport poet Jonathan Edwards argues in his compelling introduction, Davies emerges as a poet of people, who never turns away from the suffering or the beauty of the saints and lodgers among whom he lives.
Jonathan Edwards’s first collection of poems, My Family and Other Superheroes received the Costa Poetry Award and the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award. He lives in Crosskeys, near Newport, and is editor of Poetry Wales.