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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Nativity of Thomas Hardy (1840)

William Dewey: Ah, nativities of Thomas Hardy be'ent what they were.

Michael Mail: Th'art right, Old William. The young folks don't sing the Thomas Hardy carols round the parish as they once did.

Thomas Leaf: He-he! We'd rather bide at home and play on them there X-boxes.

Michael: And did you hear about that high-and-mighty Mrs Bathsheba Troy up at Weatherbury?

Thomas Penny: Aye. Married a Belgian.

William: A Belgian?

Thomas: Ar. En says 'es Gabriel Oak from Norcombe. But 'e be Gabriel Eikenboom from Antwerp.

Parson Maybold: Thank you, villagers. Now let us join in the Wessex Litany.

All: O Great Architect
Let us not die of consumption
Nor crash into the Night Mail.
Let us not be a-drownded
Or have our house fall upon us
Or unexpectedly be burnt to death in a fire in a castle.
Let us not be hanged for murdering our spouses in a boarding house
Or shot by a jealous fiancee
Or carried off by the Press Gang
Or bit by an adder
Or die in the workhouse
Or arrested by the Customs Men
Or shot for deserting the King's Hussars
Or pine away for love
Or be shot by Boney's armies
Or drop dead of unexpected happiness.
But instead let us quietly toil in the fields,
Drink cider and muse on the ironies of life
Until we're as old as Granfer Cantle
And as daft as old Mr Derriman
And die naturally,
Of old age,
At 42.


  1. Ooh -arr. Have some more furmity and let's go wife-swapping

  2. In Time of Breaking of Nations

    Only a man harrowing clods
    In a slow silent walk
    With an old horse that stumbles and nods
    Half asleep as they stalk.

    Only thin smoke without flame
    From the heaps of couch-grass:
    Yet this will go onward the same
    Though Dynasties pass.

    Yonder a maid and her wight
    Come whispering by:
    War’s annals will cloud into night
    Ere their story die.

    I can forgive old Thomas much for that little poem.

    1. Well, I blame Thomas Hardy for the frightening position this poem put me in at the age of 17 on school exchange to Paris. I was with my French counterpart in an English lesson in her school. The teacher asked me (as the only English visitor) to read the poem aloud. No problem. Then she invited me to translate it spontaneously into French to help the French students. I stumbled through but my A level French wasn't quite up to the job, especially with words like 'wight' that I scarcely understood in English.


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