John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Journey of the Magi

Journey of the Magi

'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 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.

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

Magi misconception number three: the wise men found the baby Jesus lying in a manger. Not so. While you often see the wise men The story of the Adoration of the Magi is found in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, and Matthew 2:11 clearly states that the Magi visited Jesus in a house in Bethlehem.

A related question is, when did the Magi visit Jesus? According to the Roman Catholic Church, it was 12 days after Jesus was born. But according to Luke, the Holy Family was only in Bethlehem for eight days before returning to Nazareth. But Matthew says they fled to Egypt to escape Herod, and only returned after Herod had died. Confusing. But since I don't think the Bible should be read literally, it doesn't really bother me.

Tags: advent: 2003, poet's corner
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