Journey of the Magi
How we cite our quotes:
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, (8-9)
When we're exploring the theme of fear and/or anxiety, the key word in this passage becomes the word "regretted." Now, at first it might not seem like regret and fear really have much to do with one another. But in the case of the Magi and their difficult journey, suddenly their lavish upbringing does in fact become a source of fear. The regret, in this case, is a kind of nervousness, almost as if the Magi are suddenly realizing that their unaccustomed-ness could actually get them killed out here in cold and unfamiliar territory. Yikes.
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices: (14-15)
The Magi, who as we've noted are used to far cushier surroundings, suddenly find themselves traveling through country that is just plain unfriendly. Considering that the reason they even set out on this journey is because they were all but commanded to by a host of angels, this horrible slog is probably not at all what they expected. And, often, the unexpected causes fear.
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly. (19-20)
Even though the Magi had received instructions from on high (literally), something inside was telling them that this might all just be a giant cosmic joke. And hey, we've all been there. This doubt could stem from two kinds of fear, really: the fear that it was in fact all folly, and that they'd made the journey for nothing, or more likely, the fear that it wasn't folly at all, and that they're about to witness the end of their culture as they knew it. The second kind is harder to articulate, which is probably why the first is there instead. The second is implied.