A Sonnet for Epiphany

these three arrive and bring us with them

The Feast of the Epiphany falls on the 6th of January and I am posting this sonnet of mine as a little extra in addition to the extracts from my Advent anthology Waiting on the Word which I have been posting each day.

Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the three wise men at the manger in Bethlehem has a special mystery and joy to it. Until now the story of the coming Messiah has been confined to Israel, the covenant people, but here suddenly, mysteriously, are three Gentiles who have intuited that his birth is good new for them too. Here is an Epiphany, a revelation, that the birth of Christ is not  one small step for a local religion but a great leap  for all mankind. I love the way that traditionally the three wise men (or kings) are shown as representing the different races and cultures and languages of the world. I love the combination in their character of diligence and joy. They ‘seek diligently’, but they ‘rejoice with exceeding great joy’! I love the way they loved and followed a star, but didn’t stop at the star, but rather let the star lead them to something beyond itself. Surely that is a pattern for all wise contemplation of nature whether in art or science. The last line of this poem is a little nod in the direction of Tennyson’s great poem Ulysses

This sonnet is drawn from my book Sounding the Seasons, which is available from Amazon etc or by order from your local bookshop, should you be lucky enough to have one.

As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears, or by clicking on the title of the poem which will take you to the audioboo page.


It might have been just someone else’s story,
Some chosen people get a special king.
We leave them to their own peculiar glory,
We don’t belong, it doesn’t mean a thing.
But when these three arrive they bring us with them,
Gentiles like us, their wisdom might be ours;
A steady step that finds an inner rhythm,
A  pilgrim’s eye that sees beyond the stars.
They did not know his name but still they sought him,
They came from otherwhere but still they found;
In temples they found those who sold and bought him,
But in the filthy stable, hallowed ground.
Their courage gives our questing hearts a voice
To seek, to find, to worship, to rejoice.



Filed under christianity, imagination, Poems

15 responses to “A Sonnet for Epiphany

  1. You touch my heart with this beautiful sonnet. Thank you.

  2. Thanks Malcolm! The whole story of how God choose to renewal himself to the world is so marvelously different than what the world would have expected. May ‘epiphany’ last throughout the year for you (as I pay out well be for me too) with Christ revealing himself to us in deeper ways each day!

    • malcolmguite


      • actually…I find it interesting that one of your lines is “They did not know his name but still they sought him”. I wrote an Epiphany sonnet as well…before I read yours. Mine includes a similar line “although they knew not him for whom they sought”. That idea of the Magi seeking for one whom they did not yet know is quite a captivating one!

      • malcolmguite

        Yes indeed

  3. Your sonnets are always wonderful but this one on Epiphany is particularly meaningful and magnificent to those of us who come from otherwhere.

  4. Mary Iveson

    So moving, so profound. Thank you.

  5. Kindred spirit in they grace, held us birth a gentler race.
    With thanks for your psalm,
    Lee Anne

  6. J. R.

    Beautiful…more and more I am thankful for being included in God’s great plan.

  7. Karen thacker

    Wonderful, beautiful as a poem and in
    its meaning and encouragement.

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