ME: in Times Lit Supp

W. H. Davies

published March 6, 2020
Blood on the tracks

In his review of Jeanine Cummins’s novel American Dirt, which is about illegal Mexican immigrants train-jumping to get to the United States, Jakob Hofmann (February 14) describes these trains as “Not the ‘hobomotives’ employed by W. H. Davies and his kind, but the limb-lopping freight trains that barrel their way through Mexico …”. There is a clear suggestion that the “hobomotives” (an apparent neologism of Hofmann’s, the meaning of which I had to guess at) were somehow more benign, less harmful machines, ignoring the fact that in Davies’s Autobiography of a Super-Tramp he describes how he had a leg lopped off after a failed attempt to jump a train, thus cutting short his “super-tramping” around North America. He returned to England and became the poet we know today.

F. W. Nunneley
Beckley, East Sussex