A Christmas Legend and Poem

There is a legend that the animals in their barns kneel at midnight on Christmas Eve. This poem by Thomas Hardy immortalizes the belief.  The last two stanzas of the poem express my hope, my suspension of disbelief, and my quiet but stubborn lifelong conviction that magic and miracles can happen.


The Oxen

    By Thomas Hardy

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.


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