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 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.

— T.S. Eliot

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