The Oxen

by Thomas Hardy (1915)

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.

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