Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Ghost-Story

Here is a poem, written by Thomas Hardy 114 years ago, which asks a perennial but hopelessly rhetorical question. (It was the Boer War in which the English soldier died.)

A Christmas Ghost Story

South of the Line, inland from Durban,
A mouldering soldier lies - your countryman.
Awry and doubled up are his gray bones,
And on the breeze his puzzled phantom moans
Nightly to clear Canopus: "I would know
By whom and when the All-Earth-gladdening Law
Of Peace, brought in by that Man Crucified,
Was ruled to be right, and set aside?

And what of logic or of truth appears
In tacking 'Anno Domino' to the years?
Near twenty-hundred livened thus have hied,
But tarries yet the Cause fpr which He died."

Christmas Eve, 1899

Just to avoid confusion, I suppose, the term "A.D." ("Anno Domino," or"Year of Our Lord") and B.C. ("Before Christ") were dropped by many historians and archaeologists in favor of the inoffensive (to non-Christians) terms C.E. ("Christian Era") and B.C.E.

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