Saturday, December 6, 2014

"The Star of Bethlehem" by Myra Maude Hayden (1889)

The Star of Bethlehem


Across the Arabian desert the wind blew keen and strong.

Smiting the lonely palm trees into a strange, sweet song;

Scooping sand from the level, rolling billows of sand,

Thundering down the distance a volley of music grand.

The wind blew keen in the faces of three camels, strong and white,

Moving like vapor shadows through the opalescent light—

And the wise men had grown weary with watching for the star—

Three kings—Melchoir and Gaspar and the Egyptian Balthasar.

Into the West they journeyed: the palm trees sang no more:

The space grew long between them and the sand sea's barren shore.

The eyes of the watchers, moving soft as shadows fly,

Were fixed in steadfast longing on the dark'ning, desert sky.

A desolate, wind-swept silence came down on the frosty plain,

By earthly sounds unbroken, save the shake of a bridle chain.

As the sacred Syrian camels with quick trot forward swung,

Over the river Jordan the moon like a gold globe hung.

From the farthest reach of vision, from the outer edge of space,

Stars jeweled the heaven, tinting the night's glad face.

The weary wise men watching, marked with no surprise

A lambent flame like glory afar in the east arise.

With thrilling souls and breathless, they saw the shimmering flood

Narrow, contract and lessen—with awe it stirred their blood,

And with trumped voice they shouted and the cry rang clear and far.

"We thank the God of our fathers! the Star of our faith, the Star!"

Thro' the streets of the Holy City gladly the wise men came,

The starlight's frosty glitter grew warm by the brazier's flame,

Where, at the gate of the palace, spikenard and aloes burned.

Cleaving the smoke of the incense, into the court of Herod they turned.

There the wise men halted at the mouth of frescoed room

Where jeweled disk and column shot into the deep rich gloom

Of the outer court or chamber a shower of colors rare.

A guard to the radiance pointing, said: "Enter, The king is there."

A censer of gold exhaling rare perfumes of sandalwood

Swung from a chain of crystal, a mellow moon-like flood;

Of wondrous light down streaming in an eddying, golden ring

Fell on the face of Herod, on the face of Herod the King.

Into this ruin and riot of color which warmed the king's slow blood

Entered the wise men slowly, each in a thoughtful mood.

"Who are you, sirs? Whence came you?" haughtily Herod asked.

And with many questions he straightway the wise men tasked.

"We give thee peace, O Herod. We are couriers of glad news.

In the land of Judea is born the Christ, King of the Jews.

And king of the world, O Ruler—" Ashen the face of Herod the Great.

While deep in their hoary sockets glowed his eyes with a terrible hate.

Then, as a cloud's deep shadow rolls over a rugged plain,

Letting the sun of summer in splendor fall again,

So the cloud of his anger rolled from Herod the King,

On his face the light down streaming fell in a golden ring.

Forth at his eager summons attendants quickly sped,

From a splendid inner chamber rich stuffs o gold and red,

And royal, pulsing purple, jewels and perfumes sweet

With lowly, glad obeisance they laid at the wise men's feet.

"Take these gifts of purple, and these robes lined warm and deep,

Go, follow the morning star—loiter not, nor sleep;

Search for the child and find him, then tidings quickly bring,

That I may go and worship this Christ, Judea's King."

Forth from the royal chamber gladly the wise men came,

Joy in their hearts upspringing at sight of the moving flame,

Straight thro' the gate of Joppa they followed, paused and turned—

Over the manger lowly the Star of Redemption burned.

With prayer and glad ovations they worshipped the new-born child,

While God from his heavenly distance looked down on them and smiled.

And being warned in a vision, the tidings they should not bring,

They came no more to the city in the days of Herod the King.

Troy Weekly Times. December 25, 1889: 3 col 6.

No comments:

Post a Comment