memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

The Three Kings 2

COLOGNE

As a special treat we used to eat our dinner in a restaurant, specializing in chicken roast on a revolving spit over a hot charcoal fire, in the cathedral square.

We always had the same – chicken und chips and guess what! There were no knives or forks, what fun! What a lark! (What a hoot!)

Cutlery-anarchy/ hunter-gatherers sitting round the fire tearing at the succulent, unctuous golden-skinned  meat with improbably white Hollywood teeth/ imagine Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan/ two days in an assault-landing-craft/ chundering and heaving his guts out all over the place/ followed by a hairy battle to wrest Omaha Beach from the unspeakable Hun /God is on our side/ catches up with his platoon for a much-needed spot of significant dialogues with the blokes and guess what, he opens his mouth to reveal gleaming white Northern Californian dental-work.

(The chips were to die for too; they tasted … just like real chips used to taste).

After the meal waiters brought round bowls of warm water with sliced lemon and warm-moistened hand-towels.

And across the square, the lit-up cathedral’s twin spires look down benevolently on us – all is forgiven. Gutten appetite

The 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,

    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 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

Comments on: "The Three Kings 2" (2)

  1. donna jones MBE said:

    ths is the first tie i have read this poem of eliot’s tom. thanks and season’s greetings. love donna

    Like

  2. Likewise Donna love Tom

    Like

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