Drummer Hodge

They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined -- just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
That breaks the veldt around:
And foreign constellations west
Each night above his mound.

Young Hodge the drummer never knew --
Fresh from his Wessex home --
The meaning of the broad Karoo,
The Bush, the dusty loam,
And why uprose to nightly view
Strange stars amid the gloam.

Yet portion of that unknown plain
Will Hodge for ever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
Grow to some Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellations reign
His stars eternally.

by Thomas Hardy

Comments (21)

I’ve known this poem for 20 years or more and tomorrow I go to South Africa for the first time I think it may be that Thomas Hardy has something to do with this
So heartthrobing...........................................
Yet portion of that unknown plain/Will Hodge forever be I was just struck by how wunderkind Rupert Brooke got (or ripped-off) his idiomatic is forever England from this poem.
This is about an English boy soldier, killed in a savage, senseless war and a lonely agonising death. To be read by a woman with an American accent completely destroys the ethos of the poem. Why? Racism? No, Hardy paints a picture of group of rough English squaddies (lower rank soldiers) battle weary and shocked by the sheer violence of the day. As a drummer, Hodge would be no more than 15 years old and this youthfulness would hit them hard; one of them talks about the dead boy, This is Hodge's eulogy; spoken by one of the rough men he drummed into battle, they are his companions, they feel the complete desolation and uselessness of the aftermath of battle, Just as Hodges just as they consider the 'useless' body shovelled under the sand, they express it, not some woman with a foreign accent that makes the poem all wrong.
First time I've seen 'west' used as a verb. I suppose the sun daily wests. There's nothing anti-war in the poem as it stands.
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