The Feast of the Epiphany falls on the 6th of January. 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 audioboom 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.
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7 responses to “A Sonnet for Epiphany”
Every breath we draw is a gift. Every moment of existence is a grace. ~~Thomas Merton ~~
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Thanks very much for this poem Malcolm – it’s particularly meaningful to me today.
Mr. Guite, just wanted you to know that I read through your Waiting on the Word this past Advent/Christmas and it was so very enriching to my life. I will be thinking on it all year. Thank you so much.
Yes, ‘Waiting on the Word’ one of the best books ever; it has given me (scientist) a new appreciation of poetry and provided me (trainee LLM) with some wonderful resources for ministry in several different contexts. Thanks very much.
Thanks Geoff that’s very encouraging for me to hear
Thanks for the encouragement