Author logo Selected poems of Thomas Hardy

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Go to tutorial on The Oxen
Christmas literature - wide reading tutorial
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Poetry texts for use with tutorials:
The Oxen
The Man He Killed

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 (1840-1928)
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The Man He Killed (1902)

'Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!

'But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.

'I shot him dead because -
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough; although
'He thought he'd list, perhaps,
Off-hand like - just as I -
Was out of work - had sold his traps -
No other reason why.

'Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown.'

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
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The poems on this page have been out of copyright since the fiftieth anniversary of Hardy's death in 1978. Please acknowledge my authorship of tutorials by giving the URL of any pages you use, and/or include the © copyright symbol. Suggestions for improvement are welcome. Thank you.

© Andrew Moore, 2002; Contact me