It started with the news that Caspar brought.
One moonless night a wondrous glimpse he caught;
And, showing us the bright unnamed star burning,
Insisted that the newborn King be sought.
A conference was called, the purpose stated;
For hours the assembled kings debated.
At last the expedition was confirmed!
We hastened to prepare, all hearts elated.
Young Melchior, his fervent eyes aflame,
Spoke ardently of his most zealous aim:
To seek the mystic favour of the Gods
(And for himself undying priestly fame).
While aged Caspar, gazing ever higher,
To tell the starry future did aspire;
He yearned to learn the two worlds' secret truths,
Drawn by all knowledge as a moth to fire.
But now -- you ask -- what vision did I hold?
One more pragmatic, yes, but also bold;
Two kings allied in triumph to restore
Great Cyrus' famed Empire of old.
Each noble had some different scheme to hide;
All were evasive, though of course none lied;
The caravan set out five hundred strong
By ritual flame and water purified.
Mel brought his sacred incense (the fanatic)
And Caspar, some strange southern aromatic;
I laughed at both of them, and filled my bags
With gold -- I've found its voice is quite emphatic.
So over deep ravine and mountain crest
We journeyed, eager, seldom taking rest
As slowly Persia's towers sank behind us,
And blazed our path into the Roman West.
Each, deeply in his own designs immersed,
Each night despised, and each delay we cursed;
All feigned to tolerate the others' presence --
In secret plotting how to get there first.
We reached the ancient city of the Jews,
Yet of a royal birth we heard no news;
And, seeking in the corridors of power,
Were sent off (with a most transparent ruse).
The search dragged on. For endless days it rained,
The nights grew cold and tempers overstrained;
And one by one discouraged lords crept home
Till, in our small band, only three remained.
And still the unforgiving trail we wended;
Our limbs grew weak, endurance nearly ended;
And, battered by despair and driving hail,
Into the final valley we descended.
The path grew faint -- then bit by bit skies cleared,
Clouds parted, and the star once more appeared!
It slowed its motion...wavered…then it stopped! --
As one last tiny farming town we neared.
Was this the goal of all our journeying?
This little hut -- here dwelt the promised King?
At Melchior's frown I couldn't but agree:
It wasn't, at first glance, too promising.
But Caspar was quite sure the place was right;
Dismounting, each one gripped his bundle tight.
We knocked…the door swung back…we stepped inside --
Our minds reeled, struck by more than mortal light.
Each saw, revealed within truth's blinding rays
The deeds and hidden motives of his days
There in the newborn infant's guileless eyes
Reflected back to his still-dazzled gaze;
And all that we had said, and been, and thought,
Our kingly power and the gifts we brought,
Seemed, like a candle flame before the sun,
To dwindle, in Love's radiance, to naught --
Our guile, ambition, secretive demands
All vain and empty as the desert sands;
And we, in shamed inadequacy, dropped
The worthless treasures from our trembling hands.