Friday, December 25, 2009

Your Christmas Poem

This Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) poem was recited by Patrick Ball (Irish Harpist) at a recent Coalesce Bookstore concert. I found a copy on that came with a few footnotes: the ancient folk belief is that oxen would kneel at midnight on Christmas Eve, that “barton” is a farmyard and “comb” is a valley.

I hope you all are having a lovely day. Watch the sun rise, walk the dog, call a friend, savor the warm sun, welcome all the green sprouts that have come with the winter rains. It’s all a miracle worth kneeling to every midnight of every day.

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.


Bev. De Witt-Moylan said...

A traditional and pervasive belief from my childhood that I have not heard about in years is that at midnight on Christmas Eve animals can talk.

Unfortunately, I was by turns either too young to stay up till midnight; old enough to stay up till midnight, but too clever to believe; or too old to stay up till midnight. So I never found out.

Churadogs said...

Yep, that's another lovely folk belief surrounding the Christmas Miracle & etc. I LOVE such stuff. Magic. All wonderful magic.

Alon Perlman said...

What I like is the affirmation of simple faith in the second Stanza (?)
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

In the last two stanzas that is replaced by "Hope"
Hoping it might be so
Magic indeed, let's not be too jaded, should the opportunity come in accepting an invitation, to a midnight walk to the simple small barn where farm animals bed.

Churadogs said...

Amen, Alon, Amen.