'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.