Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Oxen by Thomas Hardy

A word of caution faithful readers: I am about to reveal just how much of a compulsive organizer I am.

I am obsessive about my to-do list.  When I got an iPhone, it only got worse.  Now I had a way to sync, update, and keep track of multiple items all in one place.  Heaven.  My husband jokingly says to me, "You really use your electronic devices to the fullest, don't you?"  And though he means it in jest, I very seriously respond, "Yes, otherwise what would be the point?  And besides, the dog has never once missed her Frontline or Heartguard."

What does this have to do with Christmas poems you might ask?  Well, when I joined The Poetry Project hosted by Lu at Regular Rumination and Kelly at The Written World this summer, I went ahead and put every month's theme on my calendar, so when the first of the month rolls around, I remember to post a poem on my blog.  (By the way, this is the only blog schedule I stick to.)  When I added the holiday poems for December, I also added a note about Thomas Hardy's "The Oxen."  So when I woke up this morning and saw "PP Holdiay poems" on my to-do list.  I immediately thought, "I'm going to post Thomas Hardy's "The Oxen."  In short, this poem epitomizes Christmas for me.  I'm not sure why other than I was introduced to it by a favorite teacher of mine on my first day of ENG 101, and isn't that what Christmas is all about?  Memories and traditions?  And hope - upon re-reading this poem, I am struck by the last two lines, "I should go with him in the gloom / Hoping it might be so."  I wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas rich with your own memories and traditions no matter how quirky they may be.

"The Oxen"
Thomas Hardy

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.  

*Coming soon!  How I met Ellen Hopkins, Sonya Sones, David Levithan, and Maggie Stiefvater as well as reviews of their respective works

*Also! Poetry Project mid-year reflection and End of the Year Book Survey 2012


  1. I am wonderful at creating organization, not so much at the follow through. :)

    To me hope is the overarching feeling for the Christmas season and this is a lovely little poem.

    1. I love the language Hardy uses too like "coomb and gloom." It evokes an Old Christmas mood.