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 up a Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellations reign,
His stars eternally.
Written about the death of a local boy by the Victorian author and poet Thomas Hardy[i], it was first published as ‘The Dead Drummer’ in 1899.
[i] Thomas Hardy OM (1840 – 1928). Though perhaps more famous for his novels such as ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ and ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’, Hardy always considered himself primarily as poet. Many of his works were set in the semi-fictional region of Wessex, an area in the SW of England. Though his heart was buried in the village of Stinsford in Dorset, Hardy’s ashes are buried in Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner, next to those of that other great Victorian poet, Rudyard Kipling.