The Sleepers

William Henry Davies 1871 – 1940



As I walked down the waterside
This silent morning, wet and dark;
Before the cocks in farmyards crowed,
Before the dogs began to bark;
Before the hour of five was struck
By old Westminster's mighty clock:

As I walked down the waterside
This morning, in the cold damp air,
I saw a hundred women and men
Huddled in rags and sleeping there:
These people have no work, thought I,
And long before their time they die.

That moment, on the waterside,
A lighted car came at a bound;
I looked inside, and saw a score
Of pale and weary men that frowned;
Each man sat in a huddled heap,
Carried to work while fast asleep.

Ten cars rushed down the waterside
Like lighted coffins in the dark;
With twenty dead men in each car,
That must be brought alive by work:
These people work too hard, thought I,
And long before their time they die.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 19, 2023

47 sec read
148

Quick analysis:

Scheme Ababxx AcxcdA aaxaee abxxdA
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 830
Words 157
Stanzas 4
Stanza Lengths 6, 6, 6, 6

William Henry Davies

William Henry Davies or W H Davies was a Welsh poet and writer Davies spent a significant part of his life as a tramp or vagabond in the United States and United Kingdom but became known as one of the most popular poets of his time The principal themes in his work are the marvels of nature observations about lifes hardships his own tramping adventures and the various characters he met Davies is usually considered as one of the Georgian poets although much of his work is atypical of the style and themes adopted by others of the genre more…

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    "The Sleepers" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 23 May 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/40678/the-sleepers>.

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