“Now as at all times I can see in the mind’s eye/In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones/Appear and disappear in the blue depths of the sky/With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,/ And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,/And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,/ Being by Calvary’s turbulence insatisfied/ The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.”
i have read Yeats’ poem The Magi thousands, nay millions, of times. I would recognize any line or phrase from it. But I never memorized it, and last night, ( after listening to a recording of T.S Eliot reading his own poem The Journey of the Magi —harsh!) I decided to learn it.
And the “gift”?
When I spoke the poem aloud, for the first time,
I could see them, the Three Kings! The boardlike gold robes and glinting helmets, gleaming fitfully like. a constellation against velvet sapphire of a midnight sky, the ageless weariness and dogged determination of the quest, the consummation vouchsafed to them! to witness the luminous Godchild writhing and squalling in the golden straw, which they can never unsee, and want only to see again, and ever.
The mind does have an “eye” indeed, but as often as I’ve mouthed the phrase, I’ve never gazed with it so piercingly. it was as if a jewel box sprung open before me.
All things come of Thee, O Lord! not least among them: the poet’s gift.
Come and worship!