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

6 responses to “A Sonnet for Epiphany

  1. jillianwilkinson5986

    Dear Malcolm, this sonnet was included in Mark Tully’s Epiphany episode is Something Understood this morning. It’s repeated late tonight. Well done!

    Best wishes Jillian

    Jillian Wilkinson 7 Mill Road Oakington Cambridge. CB24 3AQ


  2. Alma Brayden

    Just what I needed today and the rest of the year.

  3. Scott Zimmerman

    Dear Malcolm,

    I read Tennysons’ Ulysses. Your last line is a wonderful counterpart to his older man who has seen all yet desires something more. Your poem points to explorers who have found Him. I relate intensely with this. I am curious about the artwork at the top of your post. I really like it and would like more information on the artist.

    Thank You
    Scott Zimmerman
    Napa California, USA

    • malcolmguite

      Dear Scott thanks for this. Yes I was referencing and replying to Tennyson’s Ulysses in my last line, suggesting that the real purpose of quest and adventure is to find the truth and to worship. The illustration is a tapestry by Burne Jones who is well known and easy to follow up on. Any book on the PreRaphaelites will tell you more

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