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 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 galloping 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 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.

 

by T. S. Eliot (1885-1965)

from Ariel Poems

Marina by T. S. Eliot

“Quis hic locus, quae regio, quae mundi plaga?”

 

What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands

What water lapping the bow

And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog

What images return

O my daughter.

 

Those who sharpen the tooth of the dog, meaning

Death

Those who glitter with the glory of the hummingbird, meaning

Death

Those who sit in the style of contentment, meaning

Death

Those who suffer the ecstasy of the animals, meaning

Death

 

Are become unsubstantial, reduced by a wind.

A breath of pine, and the woodsong fog

By this grace dissolved in place

 

What is this face, less clear and clearer

The pulse in the arm, less strong and stronger –

Given or lent? more distant than stars and nearer than the eye

 

Whispers and small laughter between leaves and hurrying feet

Under sleep, where all the waters meet.

Bowsprit cracked with ice and paint cracked with heat.

 

I made this, I have forgotten

And remember.

The rigging weak and the canvas rotten

Between one June and another September.

Made this unknowing, half conscious, unknown, my own.

The garboard strake leaks, the seams need caulking

This form, this face, this life

Living to live in a world of time beyond me; let me

Resign my life for this life, my speech for that unspoken,

The awakened, lips parted, the hope, the new ships.

 

What seas what shores what granite islands towards my timbers

And woodthrush calling through the fog

My daughter.

 

by T. S. Eliot

First published September 25, 1930 in Ariel Poems.