Tag Archives: wise men
T.S. Eliot – “Journey of the Magi”
‘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, sorefooted, 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 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 kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might 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
Why wasn’t Jesus born in Glasgow ?
They couldn’t find a virgin or three wise men.
“Three Wise Men came to Bethlehem following a star,
Their names we’re told were Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar.
One brought a gift of frankincense, the others myrrh and gold,
They came to greet the newborn king, the Gospel story told.
They gave their gifts to Jesus in the manger where he lay
His mother offered coffee, but they said they couldn’t stay.
They got back on their camels, near the stable they’d been tied,
And as they headed off back east, Mary softly sighed:
“I really don’t need perfume – though myrrh of course is tops,
And gold is always useful, but we’re nowhere near the shops,
And frankincense is lovely – but a stable’s not the place.
I hope they’re not the wisest men in all the human race!
“It was very good of them to come from such a far-off land,
After all that time on camels, it’s a wonder they could stand,
But bringing Jesus gifts of myrrh and frankincense and gold –
It’s just not very practical – he’s only ten days old!”
Next afternoon a man appeared outside the stable gate,
He said he was the Fourth Wise Man, and sorry he was late.
“I’ve brought some things I thought you’d need – it’s just a little gift”.
A quick inspection of his bag gave Mary’s heart a lift.
A frozen casserole was there, and a stuffed and fluffy toy.
Some baby clothes in pastel blue – he’d guessed it was a boy!
“The thought of washing nappies”, Mary cried “need not unnerve us,
For here’s a six-month voucher for a nappy washing service!”
She turned to thank the stranger, but the stranger wasn’t there;
He’d slipped away and vanished in the chilly winter air.
But on the gate he’d left a note, quite simple, but profound –
“Don’t write this in the Gospel, please – I’d never live it down!”
So don’t forget the Fourth Wise Man – the wisest of the lot.
He brought the really useful gifts the other three forgot.
If thoughts of gold and frankincense and myrrh don’t leave you glum
It’s because you’re prob’ly not a young and new (and first time) Mum”.