Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON THE EPIPHANY, by JOHN BYROM



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ON THE EPIPHANY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Led by the guidance of a living star
Last Line: The true day-star, the token of his birth.
Subject(s): Epiphany; Twelfth Night


LED by the guidance of a living star,
The eastern sages travell'd from afar
To seek the Saviour, by prophetic fame
Describ'd to them as "King of Jews" by name;
Whose birth, to Gentiles worthy of his sight,
Was now declar'd by this angelic light.

To its full height th' expectancy had grown
Of what the learned foreigners made known;
When at Jerusalem the sacred news
Was spread by them to Herod and the Jews;
"Where is he born? For, by his star," they said,
"Thus far, to worship him, have we been led."

Herod, who had in his tyrannic mind
No thought of empire, but of earthly kind,
Jealous of this new King of Jewish tribes,
In haste assembled all the Priests and Scribes;
Where Christ was to be born was his demand—
"In Bethlehem," they said, "in Juda's hand."

He call'd the Magi, privately again,
To learn from them the time, precisely, when
The star, which had conducted them, appear'd:
And, having all his wily questions clear'd,
Bade them to seek the Child, and from the view
Come, and tell him, that he might worship too.

They journey'd on to the appointed place,
Which Jewish Priests from prophecy could trace:
Cheer'd by the star's appearance on the way,
That pointed where the Infant Saviour lay;
Meekly they stepp'd into his humble shrine,
And fell to worshipping the Babe Divine.

The virgin mother saw them all prefer
Their off'rings, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh;
But warn'd of God, his Father, in a dream,
They disappointed Herod's murd'rous scheme;
And, having seen the object of their faith,
Sought their own country by another path.

Does not reflection justly hence arise,
That in the East, so famous for the wise,
The truest learning, sapience, and skill,
Was theirs, who sought, amidst the various ill
Which they beheld, for that predicted scene,
That should on earth commence a heav'nly reign?

These true inquirers into nature saw
That nature must have some superior law;
Some Righteous Monarch, for the good of all,
To rule with justice this disorder'd ball;
Their humble sense of wants, o'erlook'd by pride,
Made them so worthy of the star-like guide.

We read how, then, the very Pagan school
Was fill'd with rumours of a Jewish rule:
Tho' Jews themselves, as at this present day,
Dreamt of a worldly domineering sway;
The truly wise, or Jew or Gentile, sought
A Christ, the object of a happier thought.

They best could understand prophetic page,
Simple or learn'd, the shepherd or the sage:
Their eyes could see, and follow a true light,
That led them on from prophecy to sight;
Could own the Son, who by the Father's will,
Should reign a King on Sion's holy hill.

Of treasures which the wise were mov'd to bring,
If gold presented might confess the King,
Incense to his Divinity relate,
And Myrrh denote his bitter, suff'ring state,
They offer'd types of the Theandric plan
Of our salvation, God's becoming man.

In this redeeming process all concurr'd
To give sure proof of the prophetic word;
Jesus, Immanuel, the Inward Light
Of all mankind, who seek the truth aright,
Forms, in the heart of all the wise on earth,
The true day-star, the token of his birth.





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