“A cold coming we had of it, just the worst time of the year.”
So begins T. S. Eliot’s poem Journey of the Magi. Now we don’t usually do poetry here at The B-Movie Catechism. If we’re going to have any culture around these parts, we prefer it to start in a petri dish and then rapidly evolve into a city destroying mutant of gigantic proportions. Bonus points if it’s represented by a guy in a rubber suit instead of CGI.
But considering it’s the Feast of the Epiphany, which in part commemorates the visit of the three wise men, and the fact that the country is currently getting hammered by a polar vortex (look kids, the news channels have learned a new term and they’ve already run it into the ground), Eliot’s words seemed more than appropriate. Here’s the author himself reciting his work…
The poem is only 47 lines long, but Eliot packs a heck of a lot in there. These three lines alone…
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.
…reference communion, the Passover, the betrayal by Judas, the soldiers casting lots at the foot of the cross, and the new covenant via way of verses from Matthew we just discussed. Mostly, though, the poem is about a disgruntled old pagan who has recognized that the birth of Jesus has changed something fundamental about the world, but can’t quite put his finger on what. “Were we led all that way for Birth or Death?” he questions, not understanding it was both. Perhaps it is as A. David Moody suggests in his book Thomas Stearns Eliot: Poet, the magi’s lament “that this was all folly” “becomes a commonplace Christian paradox when we know that they were seeking Christ. We are under some pressure to supply the meaning they missed.” Jesus did his part, now we have to do ours. We’ve had our Christmas, now comes the time to work.
That sounds good anyway. But really, what do we know about fancy-schmancy poetry around here? Edwin Morgan’s The Loch Ness Monster’s Song is much more in line with our sensibilities.
Hnwhuffl hhnnwfl hnfl hfl?
Gdroblboblhobngbl gbl gl g g g g glbgl.
Drublhaflablhaflubhafgabhaflhafl fl fl –
gm grawwwww grf grawf awfgm graw gm.
Hovoplodok – doplodovok – plovodokot-doplodokosh?
Splgraw fok fok splgrafhatchgabrlgabrl fok splfok!
Zgra kra gka fok!
Grof grawff gahf?
Gombl mbl bl –
Ah, now that there’s poetry.