Tag Archives: Thomas Hardy poem

The Oxen – by Thomas Hardy

Durham Ox / Wikimedia Commons

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.

— by Thomas Hardy

A Spellbound Palace

J. M. W. Turner: View of Hampton Court, Herefordshire, from the Northwest / Wikimedia Commons

A Spellbound Palace

On this kindly yellow day of mild low-travelling winter sun

The stirless depths of the yews

Are vague with misty blues:

Across the spacious pathways stretching spires of shadow run,

And the wind-gnawed walls of ancient brick are fired vermilion.

Two or three early sanguine finches tune

Some tentative strains, to be enlarged by May or June:

From a thrush or blackbird

Comes now and then a word,

While an enfeebled fountain somewhere within is heard.

Our footsteps wait awhile,

Then draw beneath the pile,

When an inner court outspreads

As ’twere History’s own asile,

Where the now-visioned fountain its attenuate crystal sheds

In passive lapse that seems to ignore the yon world’s clamorous clutch,

And lays an insistent numbness on the place, like a cold hand’s touch.

And there swaggers the Shade of a straddling King, plumed, sworded, with sensual face,

And lo, too, that of his Minister, at a bold self-centred pace:

Sheer in the sun they pass; and thereupon all is still,

Save the mindless fountain tinkling on with thin enfeebled will.

— by Thomas Hardy (Hampton Court)