[Skip Navigation]

Poetry Archives

A continuing selection of classic and contemporary poems.

Journey Of The Magi

T. S. Eliot

‘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 imformation, 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.
Online text © 1998-2014 Poetry X. All rights reserved.
From Ariel Poems | 1927
Add Keyword Tags

Separate each tag with a space. You may add as many tags as you'd like to each poem.

What are tags?
Tags, sometimes called “folksonomies,” are words that describe or categorize a poem, like “20th century modernism” or “Italian sonnet”. Tags can help you find poems that have something in common, based on how other people classify them.

More Info

This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any Internet device.