Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

The Oxen, by 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.


  1. Once I happened to go out to the barn at midnight on Christmas eve, I can testify that the goats and chickens weren't talking. I think those were the only animals we had that year. Or maybe they just heard me coming.

    Thomas Hardy wasn't a bad poet, was he.

  2. it's a farm tradition to make sure the livestock is fed and bedded extra well on christmas eve

    off topic: always enjoy your eclectic yet entirely appropriate choices of images to lead off your writing. best to all this christmas

  3. I think that picture is actually from somewhere in Nepal.

    Best I could find for Hardy's poem. It's not a barton, but it'll do.

  4. From the office of readings for Christmas Eve, from a sermon of St. Augustine:

    Celebrémus læti nostræ salútis et redemptiónis advéntum. Celebrémus festum diem, quo magnus et ætérnus dies ex magno et ætérno die venit in hunc nostrum tam brevem temporálem diem.

    Many years ago, when our Persian chinchilla cat was still around, we would speculate about her words at midnight on Christmas. I would always imagine her reciting the opening lines from "Paradise Lost," through "...rose out of chaos."