The Journey of the Magi

The Journey of the Magi


Happy Feast of the Epiphany. I have so much to write about our recent doings and especially our celebration of today’s feast; but am not sure I’ll get it posted tonight. But I wanted to get this up before the day is over. Late though it is, better than missing it altogether.

The Journey of the Magi
by T. S. Eliot

“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was 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 gong 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 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 information, 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 lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have 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.

You can hear a recording of Eliot reading The Journey of the Magi at the Poetry Archive.

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  • Oh, Melanie, you put it so perfectly here: “With the exigencies of meals and nap times and nursing and the added time of getting four little people ready and four little people in and out of car seats anything else just becomes unwieldy. So it was a treat just getting to go to places I don’t usually have time for and to only have one little body to buckle and unbuckle….”  I love taking just one kid with me on errands.

    And I agree with you about the compromises we make when we become mothers.  Long ago I gave up on actually cooking dinner every night—partly because it was taking time away from my homeschool, and partly because the little rotters wouldn’t eat what I made half the time.  So I cook once a week, because I love to cook and make special meals, but the rest of the week they make their own dinners or Dad helps with dinner.  I have had to give up my self-image as somebody who cooks lovely, nutritionally balanced meals that are appreciated, I suppose.  Instead I make sure they get at least fruit with each meal, and take their vitamins. I reserve my creative cooking juices for baking or making my own (gluten free by neccessity) meals.

    (I’ve never commented before, but wanted to tell you I adore your writing; in the blogosphere it is rare to find writers who can use words like omnibus and exigencies correctly! I so enjoy your blog.)

  • Karen, Thank you for commenting.  Sometimes my family give me weird looks when I but out words like exigencies. So it’s nice to know they are appreciated somewhere.

    I understand what you mean about the dinner compromises. I continue to try to go the extra mile most nights because making a nice meal is really one thing I can do for Dom. But even thought I want to make a home-cooked meal every night, we’ve done a lot more sandwiches for dinner since Anthony was born. I used to think I’d never be one of those moms who let the kids eat just pasta with Parmesan from a can for dinner. And yet they do all the time. Or frozen fish sticks. The girls will eat my breaded tilapia but for whatever reason Ben will only eat fish sticks. They’re about the only meat he eats. And so it goes. We do the best we can and know that some day they may grow up to appreciate our greater culinary efforts.

  • Well, for us it got to the point where they would be ever so polite: “Lasagna for dinner! That looks great!” and not eat a single bite.  UGH.  I also have a five year old who will only eat meat in the form of a chicken nugget (which he thought were fish for a long, long time) or a hot dog, maybe.  I started thinking, maybe I’d just rather they eat something, anything.  So we started just asking them each night what they wanted, and if they had it, my husband would make it.  And lo, they ate.  And their tummies were full.

    Now I make a nice meal once a week, on average. My husband is the type who could eat whatever, even the same thing every night, and he really doesn’t mind getting his own meals.  Plus me being celiac, it was hard to find kid-friendly meals that everyone liked, that were gluten free.

    So I just started experimenting with my own meals.
    Lately I discovered that my kids will all eat cauliflower if I roast it with olive oil and salt.  They love it!  So at least I have found something healthy that they like. I remember hating vegetables as a child, but I love them now.  Their tastes will change.  Hopefully!

  • Dear Melanie, I am not married and don’t have any children. God apparently had other plans for me! I don’t get to your blog very often, but I do love your writing and watching your kids grow. I used to check into Dom’s blog when he was still writing it. (Is he still writing it?)

    I wanted to ask where Dom got the beautiful Madonna. It’s so lovely.

    God bless you and your beautiful family. Keep the faith!


  • Hi June, Dom is still writing; but at a much slower rate these days. It’s funny how that has flip-flopped. He used to be the power blogger and I used to just dabble occasionally.

    I think Dom got the Madonna via Amazon. (You can see it here: Josephs Studio Madonna W/ Child It was one I saw at the Faith and Family Mom’s Day Out last April (they had them as centerpieces on all the tables) and I loved it so I jotted down the information.

    Thanks for all the kind words.