Day 23
Kings? Wise Men?

Whoever they were and whatever their role, we can be certain that the visitors from the East did not have an easy journey: after all, they didn't have a clue where they were going (and no satnav declared 'You have reached your destination'), but they did believe they were experiencing an important moment in history.

Had they made the journey today there would be all kinds of political considerations - borders to be crossed and visas needed. Would their gifts get through Customs? 

The Journey of the Magi revisited


So we got there, - eventually,

Delayed by issues at the border crossings,

strip searches, sniffer dogs, suspicious officials flanked by hard -eyed young men totting guns.

They questioned us: Were we smugglers? 

Might the costly spices we’d brought as gifts

be banned substances? 

And what of the gold? 

Was it to finance arms smuggling, insurrection or business bribes? 

Did we stick by this cock and bull story about following a star? 

Why didn’t we use satnavs?

Why this obsession with astrology?

“A star portending the birth of a Jewish Ruler!” 

That alone nearly got us arrested. 

But they let us go, their racial prejudices trumped by their conviction

 that we were harmless crazies bent on a wild goose chase.

Finally, we reached journey’s end, despite 

that last unnerving interview with Herod,

honey tongued, but with ill disguised murder seething in his eyes.


Was it all worth it to discover by starlight

a poor couple’s boy child in a tiny shack?

Well, let me say this: On our first entering in 

we glimpsed majesty in his piercing gaze, 

an awesome moment compelling worship.

He needed no court flunkies,

no smooth talking press secretary, 

no trumpets, hype, or cameras.

A human child, he manifested a wisdom welling from the depths of the eternal silence.

Here, we sensed, we had touched divinity;

Now for us life would never be the same. 

Home we went another way and found another life.


©Don Dowling 

With apologies to T.S. Eliot.

Click the arrow to hear the poem read