Later Poems

by Bliss Carman


 

The Sending of the Magi


 

IN a far Eastern country
It happened long of yore,
Where a lone and level sunrise
Flushes the desert floor,
That three kings sat together
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And a spearman kept the door.

Gaspar, whose wealth was counted
By city and caravan;
With Melchior, the seer
Who read the starry plan;

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And Balthasar, the blameless,
Who loved his fellow man.

There while they talked, a sudden
Strange rushing sound arose,
And as with startled faces

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They thought upon their foes,
Three figures stood before them
In imperial repose.

One in flame-gold and one in blue
And one in scarlet clear,

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With the almighty portent
Of sunrise they drew near!
And the kings made obeisance
With hand on breast, in fear.

"Arise," said they, "we bring you

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Good tidings of great peace!
To-day a power is wakened
Whose working must increase,
Till fear and greed and malice
And violence shall cease."
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The messengers were Michael,
By whom all things are wrought
To shape and hue; and Gabriel
Who is the lord of thought;
And Rafael without whose love
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All toil must come to nought.

Then Rafael said to Balthasar,
"In a country west from here
A lord is born in lowliness,
In love without a peer.

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Take grievances and gifts to him
And prove his kingship clear!

"By this sign ye shall know him;
Within his mother’s arm
Among the sweet-breathed cattle

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He slumbers without harm,
While wicked hearts are troubled
And tyrants take alarm."

And Gabriel said to Melchior,
"My comrade, I will send

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My star to go before you,
That ye may comprehend
Where leads your mystic learning
In a humaner trend."

And Michael said to Gaspar,

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"Thou royal builder, go
With tribute of thy riches!
Though time shall overthrow
Thy kingdom, no undoing
His gentle might shall know."
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Then while the kings’ hearts greatened
And all the chamber shone,
As when the hills at sundown
Take a new glory on
And the air thrills with purple,
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Their visitors were gone.

Then straightway up rose Gaspar,
Melchior and Balthasar,
And passed out through the murmur
Of palace and bazar,

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To make without misgiving
The journey of the Star.