Christmas Poems » The Wise Men of the East

Three kings went riding from the East
Through fine weather and wet;
"And whither shall we ride," they said,
"Where we ha' not ridden yet?"

"And whither shall we ride," they said,
"To find the hidden thing
That times the course of all our stars
And all our auguring?"

They were the Wise Men of the East,
And none so wise as they;
"Alas!" the King of Persia cried,
"And must ye ride away?

"Yet since ye go a-riding, sirs,
I pray ye, ride for me,
And carry me my golden gifts
To the King o' Galilee.

"Go riding into Palestine,
A long ride and a fair!"
"'Tis well!" the Mages answered him,
"As well as anywhere!"

They rode by day, they rode by night,
The stars came out on high,--
"And, oh!" said King Balthazar,
As he gazed into the sky,

"We ride by day, we ride by night,
To a King in Galilee;
We leave a king in Persia,
And kings no less are we.

"Yet often in the deep blue night,
When stars burn far and dim,
I wish I knew a greater King,
To fall and worship him.

"A king who should not care to reign,
But wonderful and fair;
A king--a king that were a star
Aloft in miles of air!"

"A star is good," said Melchior,
"A high, unworldly thing;
But I would choose a soul alive
To be my Lord and King.

"Not Herod, nay, nor Cyrus, nay,
Not any king at all;
For I would choose a new-born child
Laid in a manger-stall."

"'Tis well," the black King Casper cried,
"For mighty men are ye;
But no such humble king were meet
For my simplicity.

"A star is small and very far,
A babe's a simple thing;
The very Son of God himself
Shall be my Lord and King!"

Then smiled the King Balthazar;
"A good youth!" Melchior cried;
And young and old, without a word,
Along the hills they ride,

Till, lo! among the western skies
There grows a shining thing--
"The star! Behold the star," they shout;
"Behold Balthazar's King!"

And, lo! within the western skies
The star begins to flit;
The three kings spur their horses on,
And follow after it.

And when they reach the king's palace,
They cry, "Behold the place!"
But, like a shining bird, the star
Flits on in heaven apace.

Oh they rode on, and on they rode,
Till they reached a lonely wold,
Where shepherds keep their flocks by night,
And the night was chill and cold.

Oh they rode on, and on they rode,
Till they reach a little town,
And there the star in heaven stands still
Above a stable brown.

The town is hardly a village,
The stable's old and poor,
But there the star in heaven stands still
Above the stable door.

And through the open door, the straw
And the tired beasts they see;
And the Babe, laid in a manger,
That sleepeth peacefully.

"All hail, the King of Melchior!"
The three Wise Men begin;
King Melchior swings from off his horse,
And he would have entered in.

But why do the horses whinny and neigh?
And what thing fills the night
With wheeling spires of angels,
And streams of heavenly light?

Above the stable roof they turn
And hover in a ring,
And "Glory be to God on high
And peace on earth," they sing.

King Melchior kneels upon the grass
And falls a-praying there;
Balthazar lets the bridle drop,
And gazes in the air.

But Casper gives a happy shout,
And hastens to the stall;
"Now, hail!" he cries, "thou Son of God,
And Saviour of us all."

- A. Mary F. Robinson

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