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 believe           [Hynes gives "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 comb
      Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
     Hoping it might be so.

Transcribed directly from the London Times for 24 December 1915, page 7. Checked against The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy, ed. Samuel Hynes, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1984). II 206. [PVA].

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Last modified 29 July 2004