W H Davies, born in Newport in 1871, is famous for his poem Leisure, which opens -
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.
In A Poet’s Pilgrimage, published in 1918, he tries to take time to stand and stare on his walking tour from Carmarthen to London. He describes his route and the people he meets on the road and at the roadside taverns - hawkers, tramps, beggars, rag-and-bone men, boxers, sailors. Years earlier Davies fell and crushed his foot while attempting to jump a freight train in Ontario, his lower leg had to be amputated and since then he wore a wooden leg.
Between 1893 and 1899 Davies spent years drifting, begging and taking on seasonal work in America - this time is chronicled in his The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp.