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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday, 28 December '08: "Three trees on a low sky"

The 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 long 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 terraqces,
And the silken girls bring 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 termperate 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, 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 were no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.


Carrie said...

Ah, I had not read this poem for a very long time. Such powerful writing...

Gemma Wiseman said...

How I love all T. S. Eliot's poetry. It seems so timeless, reaching back to old worlds and giving them spirit in the new! Great choice!

SmilingSally said...

The picture tells a story more powerful than the poem.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I just love this poem and have it included in the poetry packet for the poetry unit I teach. Hope all is well, dear sweet friend.
Have a lovely New Year celebration.
Big hug and lots of love your way ~

Tess Kincaid said...

Wonderful message in the photo and the poem!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Gorgeous, Eleanor, simply gorgeous!


Sheila :-)