1. What is the significance of the oxen kneeling [asked by five students], and why does the narrator hope they are?
2. Why does Hardy use the word "gloom"? What does this word signify here? [Asked by five students.]
3. In the last line, what is the poet "hoping" for? [Asked by four students.]
4. What myth is the poem drawn from? [Asked by two students.]
5. Why does the poet choose the oxen instead of another animal? [This and the remaining questions were asked by just a single student in each case.]
6. The speaker seems to suggest that the oxen knelt "in the past"--why?
7. Why is Hardy concerned about whether the oxen are kneeling?
8. Why is the story of Christ's birth associated with "gloom"?
9. What is the attitude of the speaker: is it skeptical, or hopeful, or both?
10. Is this loss of faith in Christianity correlated to the time that Hardy wrote the poem (i. e., World War I)?
11. "embers in the hearthside ease"--I do not understand this line.
12. Why is the word "weave" used in connection with "fancy"?
13. Is the speaker questioning whether those attending midnight mass actually know what occurred on Christmas eve?
14. Who are those who would lead the speaker to see the oxen?
15. What is the ox supposed to symbolize?
- "The Oxen"
- Image, Allusion, Voice, Dialect, and Irony in Thomas Hardy's "The Oxen" and the Poem's Original Publication Context
Last modified 1 August 2001