Thursday, 24 December 2009

The Oxen

Here's one for today, a poem by Hardy which refers to a country legend that farmyard animals kneeled at midnight on Christmas Eve. I find it expresses a sympathetic sentiment.

I'm also enjoying his unfashionable clunkiness: poetry as jolie laide, defined somewhere on the web as where 'features are not pretty in conventional terms, but nevertheless have a distinctive harmony or charm.'

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 believe
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve
“Come; see the oxen kneel

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

Have a great Christmas! Thank you to everyone who's contributed to the blog and, on occasion, helped me along. It's much appreciated. All the very best to you and yours.


6 comments:

worm said...

I've always found the easiest way to translate jolie-laide is 'Barbra Streisand'

see you on the other side!!

Sophie King said...

I don't know about kneeling oxen, but I have seen cows in Normandy sitting on their haunches like dogs. Only in France. Happy Christmas, Gaw.

Sean said...

ah not just any old cow, but a bull with an education? (and no testicles) even the slightly enlightened and cultured bovines kneel for the crib, a lesson for us all.

Nadolig Llawen

Kevin Musgrove said...

have a cool Yule, Gareth!

Bunny Smedley said...

What a pleasing poem. Only this morning, our household discussed the whole business of animals talking at midnight on Christmas - we are all slightly concerned that the cats will make long speeches. I think I might make an effort not to be awake when that happens.

Anyway, all best wishes to you and yours for a merry Christmas and a very happy and peaceful New Year.

No Good Boyo said...

Calennig Llawen to the Occupied Marches, old man. I never could stand Hardy the novelist after enduring Under the Greenwood Tree at O level, but admire the poetry. Thanks for the reminder why, and take care.