Hardy’s Oxen

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.

George Herbert on discipleship

George Herbert on Discipleship

The Collar

I Struck the board, and cry’d, No more.

I will abroad.

What? shall I ever sigh and pine?

My lines and life are free; free as the rode,

Loose as the winde, as large as store.

Shall I be still in suit?

Have I no harvest but a thorn

To let me bloud, and not restore

What I have lost with cordiall fruit?

Sure there was wine

Before my sighs did drie it: there was corn

Before my tears did drown it.

Is the yeare onely lost to me?

Have I no bayes to crown it?

No flowers, no garlands gay? all blasted?

All wasted?

Not so, my heart: but there is fruit,

And thou hast hands.

Recover all thy sigh-blown age

On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute

Of what is fit, and not. Forsake thy cage,

Thy rope of sands,

Which pettie thoughts have made, and made to thee

Good cable, to enforce and draw,

And be thy law,

While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.

Away; take heed:

I will abroad.

Call in thy deaths head there: tie up thy fears.

He that forbears

To suit and serve his need,

Deserves his load.

But as I rav’d and grew more fierce and wilde

At every word,

Me thoughts I heard one calling, Childe:

And I reply’d, MyLord.

from The Temple (1633)