You can listen to T.S.Eliot reading his Epiphany poem The Journey of the Magi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCVnuEWXQcg – from a poor recording.
Or you can listen to Jeremy Irons on BBC radio on new Year’s Day http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b086l9pb or
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBg_aYvp5GU – beautifully read by Martin Harris
Ann Chen reads Chesterton’s The Wise Men
THE WISE MEN – G.K. Chesterton
Step softly, under snow or rain,
To find the place where men can pray;
The way is all so very plain
That we may lose the way
.Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore
On tortured puzzles from our youth,
We know all the labyrinthine lore,We are the three wise men of yore,
And we know all things but truth.
We have gone round and round the hill
And lost the wood among the trees,
And learnt long names for every ill,
And serve the made gods, naming still
The furies the Eumenides.
The gods of violence took the veil
Of vision and philosophy,
The Serpent that brought all men bale,
He bites his own accursed tail,
And calls himself Eternity.
Go humbly … it has hailed and snowed…
With voices low and lanterns lit;
So very simple is the road,
That we may stray from it.
The world grows terrible and white,
And blinding white the breaking day;
We walk bewildered in the light,
For something is too large for sight,
And something much too plain to say.
The Child that was ere worlds begun
… We need but walk a little way,
We need but see a latch undone…
The Child that played with moon and sun
Is playing with a little hay.
The house from which the heavens are fed,
The old strange house that is our own,
Where trick of words are never said,
And Mercy is as plain as bread,
And Honour is as hard as stone.
Go humbly, humble are the skies,
And low and large and fierce the Star;
So very near the Manger lies
That we may travel far.
Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain.
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again,
And we are little children walking
Through the snow and rain.
T.S.Eliot: The 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,
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 downThis set down
This: were we led all that way forBirth 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..