December 4, 2010 oxen
Hahaha oxen. Once when I was a child and we were on holiday in Thailand, we went to a small village in the hill country. A man took us on an ox-cart to ride to another village, and for the giggles he offered to let me sit up on the front by the oxen. I didn’t really want to, but he seemed so convinced that it would be a fun and novelty experience that I gave in. And it was a fun and novelty experience, if you like being in close proximity to the hindquarters of two smelly oxen whilst driving down a splashy mud road. To cut a long story short, the ox in front of me did a large smelly poo while it was trotting along, the poo hit its tail, its tail hit my leg, I had poo on my leg, and I had to pretend that I hadn’t noticed and that I was having a brilliant time.
But Thomas Hardy that old chappie, he was a big fan of Oxen (probably a very different breed to the rather macho ones in the picture). I found this poem of his in an anthology I bought recently called The Rattle Bag. If you like poetry at all (and I’m assuming you do since you read this blog) you should probably buy it.
Now I think of it, I’m pretty sure I’ve read this poem before. It’s probably a classic or something? Being more versed in trashy chick-lit, I wouldn’t know.
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
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.