Today, I am trying to truly pause and ponder. Amidst the busyness of our days, our many lists and our much hurrying, suddenly the day is gone and we are too tired even to reflect on the hours that have come and gone so swiftly. In contrast to my last post, Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Head of English written around the mid 1980s, I turn to the poet William Henry Davies 1871-1940. His poem “Leisure” was first published in 1911. The poem has 7 two line verses, rhyming couplets! The poet pleads for an appreciation of nature and indeed personifies “nature”. In the reference to “Beauty” perhaps the poet sees nature as a dancing girl? Read it slowly, and as you pause and ponder, allow your imagination to take you to those places in which you have found yourself standing and staring. As I write this, I am just about to head to Colorado for a few days, and I am looking forward to many opportunities to stand and stare. Enjoy this poem’s simplicity and above all, stand and stare.

Leisure by William Henry Davies

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.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

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.

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

O Holy and majestic God of creation,
you too took time to stand and stare.
How quickly we have forgotten “sabbath”
Today help us to pause and ponder.
and in this moment create in us
a wonder and a delight for life itself.
All too soon we are back to
Holy and majestic God
help us to pause and to pray,
then soon we can return to the task of
this our one
and only world. Amen.

2 thoughts on “Leisure

  1. As I read this poem and prayer, pleasant memories of childhood come to mind when my parents would implore me not to dawdle. This happened often, particularly if we were getting ready to go somewhere, if I was sent on an errand, etc. But with that warning always came a reminder of the opportunity to come. “You’ll have plenty of time to dawdle on Saturday. You’ll have plenty of time to dawdle after your piano lesson. You’ll have plenty of time to dawdle next week when we’re on vacation.” Decades later, my mother showed me a poem clipped from a newspaper when I was a child. It was Wilferd Petersons’s Slow Me Down, Lord. She thought it was wise and worth remembering. She also thought I needed it as a busy adult. She was correct on all counts. Thank you, Edward, for your reminder as well to stand and stare.


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