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Wise Men

The Wise Men, Minerva Teichert (1889-1976)

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 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: 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
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)

Reader Comments (9)

I love Minerva Teichert's work. I got the chance to take my girls to see an entire exhibit if her work at BYU's art museum this past spring. Loved it.

December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette Lyon

I also love Minerva Teichert. Great choices today! You're really going to have one for every day, aren't you? You are amazing.

December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenna Consolo

I LOVE that Minerva Teichert painting and the T.S.Eliot poem has his typical unusual slant with sublime imagery. I think this might be my favorite one yet. Thank you!

Seriously, please publish this. I'll buy it.

December 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercharrette

Thank you for remembering Christmas

December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterQueenmemory

The Eliot poem is just stunning.

December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen of A2eatwrite

Good ol' Minerva! And goo ol T.S.! What would we do without them!

December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi Ashworth

thank you

December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMargeaux St.Croix

I love T.S. Eliot. He somehow makes the most profane and gutteral beautiful.

December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVirtualsprite

oooh I love the painting

and I love the realism in the poem, the down to earth words.

December 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGoofball

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