Dec 19, 2009

DECEMBER 20: The Holidays and Thomas Hardy's "The Oxen"


left: Completely irrelevant photo of a stranger, shamelessly intended to attract attention.






The Oxen - Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More


If I sound too cynical today, blame these frisky December 19 posts by altadenhiker and Ken Mac:

http://altadenahiker.blogspot.com/

(http://greenwichvillagenydailyphoto.blogspot.com/).

Their comedy about the holidays is lighter in tone than my offerings today, but I’m encouraged that others see something in addition to the sacred at this time of year.

I’ve been looking for poems that are sunnier than my humbuggedness about The Holidays or winter in general. However, poems celebrating winter, or the solstice, or stuff-worship at the altar of the High Holy Mercenary . . . quality poems of those sorts are hard to find, though there’s plenty of hickory dickory dockery jabbery wockery pockery out there, such as this that I penned about ten minutes ago:

Snow, snow, come today.
Polly Pickle wants to play,
go slippy sliding on her sleigh,
and she can't do that in the dirt.

Or,

Smiley Riley is a boy
who likes to play with his new toys.
If his trucks break on the floor,
he smiles and hollers, “Bring me more!”


Is that too dark? May I not eschew the Greed Fandango, the mish mash and the mush? Maybe I’m a little too self-indulgent about my eschewing, but it's hard to restrain earnest commitment.

Yet I don’t want to be the Grand Chasm of Grinch either. Humbuggedness is my problem, and I should own it, eat it, wallow in it alone—one gloom-pig in a pit of glum slop on a far, far archipelago.

In that context (somehow?), and before I go on with more father poems, here is “The Oxen,” a respectable Christmas poem by Thomas Hardy. “Hoping it might be so” is an ending to be proud of. But in getting there, we’ve had to suffer through some awkward diction ("straw-y"?!), chosen to suit the demands of rhyme and meter, I suppose. Well, that’s one reason we have so much free verse a century later.

I had to stop at two bird food stores the other day. The older man and older woman on duty at each place, as they took my money, hissed MERRY CHRISTMAS, as if Christmas were a weapon they were shooting at me. All I wanted was thistle for the finches.

Therefore, I bid you, one and all, Happy Holidays. Happy Life. Peace.

The Oxen - Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More

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3 comments:

Ken Mac said...

good stuff. Thanks!

Birdman said...

Just found this site. Enjoyed the poetry there.

altadenahiker said...

Lovely dear sweet old Hardy. He could jerk a tear, couldn't he?

Lovers' Lane