Sunday Poetry – Thomas Hardy

Christmas is almost upon us so my last poem by Thomas Hardy has a Christmas theme. It’s not his best known Christmas poem, The Oxen, but one I hadn’t read before I discovered it in my Selected Poems this week. In Yuletide in a Younger World, the speaker is looking back, with a melancholy eye, to Christmases past & remembering the wonder that Christmas used to bring.

We believed in highdays then,
And could glimpse at night
On Christmas Eve
Imminent oncomings of radiant revel – 
Doings of delight:-
Now we have no such sight.

We had eyes for phantoms then,
And at bridge or stile
On Christmas Eve
Clear beheld those countless ones who had crossed it
Cross again in file:-
Such has ceased longwhile!

We liked divination then,
and, as they homeward wound
On Christmas Eve,
We could read men’s dreams within them spinning
Even as wheels spin round:-
Now we are blinker-bound.

We heard still small voices then,
And, in the dim serene
Of Christmas Eve,
Caught the fartime tones of fire-filled prophets
Long on earth unseen….
-Can such ever have been?

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