A good place to live...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

the coldest time of winter...

I've been finding some readings for the Christingle service next Sunday, and discovered one by Laurie Lee, which will accompany T S Eliot's 'The Coming of the Magi' with us singing 'In the Bleak mid-winter' to separate the two. The weather forecast is snow for the whole south... strange to think that 6 years ago, when we were in Scotland, that inundation of snow was normal, and so was laying in food against being cut off...
The two poems capture so much more than word alone... as poetry always does.

The 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 long 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 set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have 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.

Twelfth Night by Laurie Lee

No night could be darker than this night,

no cold so cold,
as the blood snaps like a wire,
and the heart’s sap stills,
and the year seems defeated.

o never again, it seems, can green things run,
or sky birds fly,
or the grass exhale its humming breath
powdered with pimpernels,
from this dark lung of winter.

Yet here are lessons for the final mile

of pilgrim kings;
the mile still left when all have reached
their tether’s end: that mile
where the Child lies hid.

For see, beneath the hand, the earth already warms and glows;
for men with shepherd’s eyes there are
signs in the dark, the turning stars,
the lamb’s returning time.

Out of this utter death

he’s born again,

his birth our saviour;
from terror’s equinox he climbs and grows,
drawing his finger’s light across our blood
the son of heaven, and the son of God.

No comments:

Post a Comment