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Thomas Hardy : The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock. 
	“Now they are all on their knees1,”
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 barton2 by yonder coomb3
	Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
	Hoping it might be so. 

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)	1915

1 referring to a belief that oxen would kneel at midnight on Christmas Eve; 2 farmyard; 3 valley

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