Monday 24 December 2012

The Oxen

 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.

Thomas Hardy

I love this poem; it fits my own feelings at Christmas quite well. I remember the sense of magic about the Christmas story, and feel its absence now I am both older and a lapsed Anglican (ex-Anglican? post-Anglican?); magic, for me, is now far more elusive, though still there sometimes in the corner of my eye.

So I wanted to do a picture to go with it. It was a bit of a rush to get it finished in time for Christmas Eve! We had a good day; House Teenager was busily either painting at her desk or learning Fairytale Of New York on the ukulele, and I was doing this.  The gold paint for the detailing on the dressing gown was a bit of an experiment, and I quite like it- you can't see the glow of the paint on this image, but it's there! House Teenager posed for the picture, as did Ted, Deborah's lively galoot of a collie.


  1. very nice indeed.
    All the best to you and yours

  2. thanks, Gwynneth! Hope you're not missing the winter too much!

  3. I like this poem too. There are several of Hardy's poems in this vein.

    I like the painting too; it reminds me of Kelston Knoll.