Davies in 1913, photographed by Alvin Langdon Coburn
William Henry Davies or W. H. Davies (3 July 1871 – 26 September 1940) was a Welsh poet and writer. Davies spent a significant part of his life as a tramp in America and in Britian, but became one of the most popular poets of his time. The principal themes in his work are observations about life’s hardships, the ways in which the human condition is reflected in nature, his own tramping adventures and the various characters he met.
The Autobiography of a Supertramp , published in 1908, covers his life in the USA between 1893 and 1899, and includes many adventures and characters from his travels as a drifter.
You can download from here (out of copyright)
with an intro by G.B. Shaw
He took advantage of the corrupt system of “boodle”, in order to pass the winter , by agreeing to be locked up in a series of different jails. Here, with his fellow tramps, Davies would enjoy the relative comfort of “card-playing, singing, smoking, reading, relating experiences and occasionally taking exercise or going out for a walk.”
The turning point in Davies’ life came when he read in England of the riches to be made in theKlondike and immediately set off to make his fortune. Attempting to jump a freight train with fellow tramp Three-fingered Jack, he lost his footing and his right foot was crushed under the wheels of the train. The leg later had to be amputated below the knee and he wore a wooden leg thereafter.
Davies himself wrote of the accident: “I bore this accident with an outward fortitude that was far from the true state of my feelings. Thinking of my present helplessness caused me many a bitter moment, but I managed to impress all comers with a false indifference… I was soon home again, having been away less than four months; but all the wildness had been taken out of me, and my adventures after this were not of my own seeking, but the result of circumstances.” Davies’ view of his own disability was ambivalent. In his poem “The Fog”a blind man leads the poet through the fog, showing the reader that one who is handicapped in one domain may well have a considerable advantage in another.
The Fog http://allpoetry.com/poem/8494371-The-Fog-by-William-H-Davies