Thomas Hardy

(2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928 / Dorchester / England)

The Dead Drummer


I

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.

II

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.

III

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

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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  • Rookie Smita Tm (2/2/2009 5:28:00 AM)

    This poem captivated me from the first moment I heard it! Needless to mention it is one of my favourite ones.

    The imagery is so poignant and clear... and one can sense the bewilderness of young drummer Hodge who was not a warrior but perhaps a simple villager who has never travelled far from his home before.

    It brings to mind the futility of war... of mindless loss of innocent lives. Hodge's burial without a coffin still leaves the sense of incompleteness - and he does live on somewhat undead and unsettled in this strange land as part of some new life (like a tree) . (Report) Reply

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