Monday, December 24, 2012

The Oxen


Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
    "Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
    By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
    They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
    To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
    In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
    "Come; see the oxen kneel,

"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
    Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
    Hoping it might be so.

 —  Thomas Hardy

Best known as the writer of Jude the Obscure and Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) gave up fiction for poetry and produced eight volumes of poetry for posterity. The tale of The Oxen first appeared to Thomas Hardy while writing Tess of the d'Urbervilles...24 years before the poem would stand on its own. As it is remembered today.