William Henry Davies, half-length portrait, facing slightly left. in: More men of mark by Alvin Langdon Coburn. London: Duckworth & Co., 1922
by Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Samuel Barber's setting of "Night Wanderers" was not published during his lifetime. It was finally published in 1994 as a part of G. Schirmer's collection of "Ten Early Songs" by Barber. The song is a setting of a poem by William Henry Davies (1871-1940), author of the well-known chronicle "Autobiography of a Super-Tramp" (1908). The book recalls Davies' years living as a vagabond in both England and the United States during the 1890s. The poem "Night Wanderers" is part of his collection "Foliage: various poems" published by Elkin Mathews in 1913. Barber knew Davies' poetry through the anthologies of "Georgian Poetry" published between 1912 and 1922. The Georgian poets sought to maintain the Romantic and humanistic aspects of traditional English poetry, instead of writing works that adhered to the modernist dogma of T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and others. Samuel Barber set a total of three poems by W.H. Davies. The other two, "Love's Caution" and "Beggar's Song," were written around the same time and also remained unpublished until 1994. In addition to the "Ten Early Songs" published by G. Schirmer, most of Samuel Barber's early manuscripts are found in the general collection of the Music Division at the Library of Congress.