One of the questions examiners like to ask about Thomas Hardy is whether he's a fatalist or a pessimist.
For myself, I rather think that Hardy-the-novelist was a rather different person from Hardy-the-poet; and Hardy-the-poet seems to have been quite a different person from Hardy-the-countryman.
Which Hardy is the one that matters?
Well, all of them, of course: all three wise men.
Here's one of Hardy's poems, where the poet and the countryman seem to be working together.
It's called The Oxen.
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.
But then perhaps Christmas makes optimists of us all.
Word To Use Today: ox. This word comes from the Old English oxa, so it's been with us for over a thousand years.