Eliot’s Magi

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.

Thus wrote T.S. Eliot. He was taking the point of view of the Magi, after returning from the scene of the Nativity. The comparison of birth and death struck me.

Birth is painful and traumatic.
The same with death.
Birth is full of violence.
The same with death.
Birth is an event that comes against our will.
The same with death.
In birth we leave something familiar behind and go, for better of worse, into a deeper world.
The same with death.
Birth leaves us irrevocably changed.
The same with death.

Is death just another kind of birth? Sometimes.

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