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.


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Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy Downloads read by Anthony Thwaite & Lawrence Sail

1The Man He Killed (read by Anthony Thwaite)


2Drummer Hodge (read by Anthony Thwaite)


3The Ruined Maid (read by Anthony Thwaite)


4The Voice (read by Anthony Thwaite)


5The Darkling Thrush (read by Lawrence Sail)


6In Time of the Breaking of Nations (read by Anthony Thwaite)