Poem introduction

The second Boer War poem, 'Drummer Hodge', actually uses words that come from the Boer settlers in South Africa: kopje meaning a small hill; veldt meaning open unenclosed country; and Karoo, meaning barren plateau. Hardy’s thoughts about an imagined soldier from Hardy’s own native Wessex, killed in South Africa.

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.