Three Kings came riding from far away, Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar; Three Wise
Men out of the East were they, And they traveled by night and they slept by day, For
their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.
The star was so beautiful, large and clear, That all the other stars of the sky Became a
white mist in the atmosphere, And by this, they knew that the coming was near To the
Prince foretold in the prophecy.
Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows, Three caskets of gold with golden keys;
Their robes were of crimson silk with rows Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,
Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.
And so the Three Kings rode into the West, Through the dusk of the night, over hill and
dell, And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast, And sometimes talked, as they
paused to rest, With the people they met at some wayside well.
“Of the child that is born,” said Baltasar, “Good people, I pray you, tell us the news; For
we in the East have seen his star, And have ridden fast, and have ridden far, To find
and worship the King of the Jews.”
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And the people answered, “You ask in vain; We know of no King but Herod the Great!”
They thought the Wise Men were men insane, As they spurred their horses across the
plain, Like riders in haste, who cannot wait.
And when they came to Jerusalem, Herod the Great, who had heard this thing, Sent for
the Wise Men and questioned them; And said, “Go down unto Bethlehem, And bring me
tidings of this new king.”
So they rode away; and the star stood still, The only one in the grey of morn; Yes, it
stopped –it stood still of its own free will, Right over Bethlehem on the hill, The city of
David, where Christ was born.
And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard, Through the silent street, till
their horses turned And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard; But the windows
were closed, and the doors were barred, And only a light in the stable burned.
And cradled there in the scented hay, In the air made sweet by the breath of kine, The
little child in the manger lay, The child, that would be king one day Of a kingdom not
human, but divine.
His mother Mary of Nazareth Sat watching beside his place of rest, Watching the even
the flow of his breath, For the joy of life and the terror of death, Were mingled together in her breast.
They laid their offerings at his feet: The gold was their tribute to a King, The
frankincense, with its odor sweet, Was for the Priest, the Paraclete, The myrrh for the
the body’s burying.
And the mother wondered and bowed her head, And sat as still as a statue of stone;
Her heart was troubled yet comforted, Remembering what the Angel had said Of an
endless reign and of David’s throne.
Then the Kings rode out of the city gate, With a clatter of hoofs in proud array; But they
went not back to Herod the Great, For they knew his malice and feared his hate, And
returned to their homes in another way.
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow