Friday, January 03, 2020

Poetry Friday: Journey of the Magi

What else could I post on this Friday before the feast of the Epiphany? It's my annual trek with Eliot.

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 long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,


It's an astounding poem. If you've never read it you must go read the whole thing, then listen to Eliot read it, too. (The link is here.)

If you're you're not an Eliot fan, give a read-through anyway. (Remember, he's not responsible for that current cinematic caper about cats. Shudder. I like to think he'd be duly horrified.) Then try to answer these questions with me:

How does he do it?
How did he haul around the reputation of being too scholarly and too philosophical to write poetry, and then do what he does in this poem? 

This poem is such a perfect melding of earthly earthiness and supernatural doings. Eliot captures that down-to-your-bones discomfort, a life-shattering event, the squirming, the revelation, the discovery that this isn't really my home -- that knowledge which at first is both comforting and terrifying.


The round-up today is at Carol's Corner. 


  1. Listening to Eliot's poem is much better than just reading it. Thank you. It IS a perfect poem for today. Happy New Year!

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Karen. It was sassier than I expected :-) My younger daughter and I made a Timeline game (literary edition) for my older daughter's boyfriend and it included T.S. Eliot, natch.

    Everywhere they are the wisest!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this poem and the link to Eliot reading it. It's always a great experience to listen to a poem in the voice of its author.

  4. Like others, thanks for the audio, too. The lines offer allusions to a story we do know, but not from this point of view, someone who knows this journey is important: "But no longer at ease here". Thanks, Karen, & Happy New Year!

  5. Wow.
    How does he do it, indeed.
    Those first two stanzas that put us right there on the backs of the camels, and then that last stanza that helps us ask the questions any traveler, but especially THOSE travelers, needs to ask...

  6. Karen: I am so grateful to you for introducing this poem to me. What a masterpiece. I will read it again and again... like diving for treasure. Thank you!!! A perfect poem for the day. An amazing poem! All I can do now is breathe! Blessings for 2020.

  7. Thank you for sharing Karen! I have never read this poem before. Further, I've not dug too much into T.S. Elliot. The poem was really interesting. I'm going to re-read it and dig into it a bit. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  8. An amazing poem that I need to read again and again. Thank you for sharing!

  9. So glad you all enjoyed this, especially the audio experience! :)