The Nature Bible


Inspiration · Resources

Nature’s Advent - Friday 20th December 2019:



'The Oxen' (sometimes known by its first line, 'Christmas Eve, and Twelve of the Clock') is a poem by Thomas Hardy, first published in December 1915 in The Times newspaper which relates to a West Country legend that, on the anniversary of Christ's Nativity, every year farm animals kneel in their stalls in homage.



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'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.