The poem Drummer Hodge is a poem by Thomas Hardy. It was first published as The Dead Drummer in the year of 1899. But, the poem made its appearance under its well-known title in his Poems of the Past and the Present (1901).
- Actually, Thomas Hardy’s short poem Drummer Hodge is an elegy for a young British casualty of the II Boer War (1899-1902)
- It describes Hodge’s unceremonious in a country; and, its terrain, as well as sky, were completely foreign or unfamiliar to him
- The poem, with stark irony, mentions the senseless cruelty of war which also comprises imperial wars that send confused young persons to die in faraway countries
Drummer Hodge Summary
The speaker of the poem says that a group of people buries the military drummer Hodge, even without a coffin, exactly as they found his dead body. There is no marker for him but just the crest of a small hill that rises above the flat surrounding grassland. According to the speaker, unfamiliar stars move west in heaven (sky) at night time, above Hodge’s burial mound.
Hodge who was a young military drummer totally failed to understand:
- The wide-semi desert landscape of South Africa
- The South African wilderness, or
- The dusty soil
Its reason is that he had come there directly from Wessex (England) where his home was. Moreover, also never could understand the reason for rising unfamiliar constellations in the sky each night at dusk.
Whatever may be the matter, Hodge will ever be a part of that land that was unfamiliar to him. The humble English body, as well as the brain of this military drummer, will fertilize a tree of that country (South Africa). Moreover, the unfamiliar stars, peering down strangely, will preside over this person for the rest of time.
Drummer Hodge Poem
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.
Ques: What message does Thomas Hardy’s poem Drummer Hodge convey ?
Ans: Though Hardy’s poems deal with events of the long past as well as issues that are no longer relevant, many of his poems ring true even now; and his elegiac poem Drummer Hodge is one of them. Although the poem is a story about events long passed, they are worth musing or thinking about even today, as the war is an unfortunate reality in the present time as well. The Hodge’s story by Thomas Hardy is one that takes on so many themes as well as perspectives in just a few short verses.
Ques: What is the subject matter of Drummer Hodge ?
And: The poem Drummer Hodge was written just after the start of the II Boer War (1899). That is why it was topical at the time of its publishing. In short, it focuses on the burial of a Hodge, a military drummer in the (British) army fighting in the Boer War.
Ques: How does the poem Drummer Hodge open ?
Ans: Thomas Hardy’s poem opens with these lines:
“They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined-just as found:”