It is the observed date of Epiphany, and we are now near the end of Christmastide. For the Loia family it has been a most satisfactory holiday season, but I feel, like I usually do at the end of Christmas break, a little melancholy. I don't want to take our tree down quite yet and it is still so fresh and green! Perhaps I can convince my husband that it ought to be a Valentine's Day tree!
I hope you enjoy this poem. It is a little longer and denser than my other selections, but it is very appropriate and moving. It is from the perspective of one of the Magi, now an old man, telling how his encounter with the Christ Child changed him. Once a man taking a difficult, but temporary journey he became a "stranger and sojourner' on this earth.
Journey of the Magi
by TS Eliot
'A cold coming we had of it, Just the worst time of the year For a journey, and such a journey: The ways deep and the weather sharp, The very dead of winter.' And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory, Lying down in the melting snow. There were times we regretted The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, And the silken girls bringing sherbet. Then the camel men cursing and grumbling And running away, and wanting their liquor and women, And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters, And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly And the villages dirty and charging high prices: A hard time we had of it. At the end we preferred to travel all night, Sleeping in snatches, With the voices singing in our ears, saying That this was all folly. Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley, Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation; With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness, And three trees on the low sky, And an old white horse galloped in away in the meadow. Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel, Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver, And feet kicking the empty wine-skins. But there was no imformation, and so we continued And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory. All this was a long time ago, I remember, And I would do it again, but set down This set down This: were we led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly, We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, But had thought they were different; this Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death. We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death.