Saturday, June 9, 2007

Thomas Hardy, "Drummer Hodge"

Google searches -- e.g., history boys poem -- are pointing to an Orange Crate Art post that mentions the great scene in The History Boys in which Mr. Hector talks about Thomas Hardy's poem "Drummer Hodge." I thought it'd be a good idea to post the poem, which appeared in Hardy's Poems of the Past and Present (1901). The context is the Second Boer War. I offer no interpretation of the poem. (That's right; such stuff cannot be found online.) But given the title of the volume in which "Drummer Hodge" appears, I'll point out that the poem considers Hodge's present, past, and future against a backdrop of eternity.

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 forever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
     Grow to some Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellations reign
     His stars eternally.
[Kopje-crest: a small hill (Afrikaans); veldt: plain (Afrikaans); west: set in the west; Karoo: "high plateau in the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa"; Bush: "British colonial word for tract of land covered with brushwood and shrubby vegetation." Notes from the Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, ed. Jahan Ramazani, et al. (2003).]
Related post
Movie recommendation: The History Boys

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