James Elroy Flecker

The Masque of the Magi

Three Kings have come to Bethlehem
With a trailing star in front of them.


What would you in this little place,
    You three bright kings?


Mother, we tracked the trailing star
Which brought us here from lands afar,
And we would look on his dear face
Round whom the Seraphs fold their wings.


But who are you, bright kings?


Caspar am I: the rocky North
From storm and silence drave me forth
    Down to the blue and tideless sea.
I do not fear the tinkling sword,
For I am a great battle-lord,
    And love the horns of chivalry.
And I have brought thee splendid gold,
The strong man's joy, refined and cold.
    All hail, thou Prince of Galilee!


I am Balthazar, Lord of Ind,
Where blows a soft and scented wind
    From Taprobane towards Cathay.
My children, who are tall and wise,
Stand by a tree with shutten eyes
    And seem to meditate or pray.
And these red drops of frankincense
Betoken man's intelligence.
    Hail, Lord of Wisdom, Prince of Day!


I am the dark man, Melchior,
And I shall live but little more
    Since I am old and feebly move.
My kingdom is a burnt-up land
Half buried by the drifting sand,
    So hot Apollo shines above.
What could I bring but simple myrrh
White blossom of the cordial fire?
    Hail, Prince of Souls, and Lord of Love!


O Prince of souls and Lord of Love,
O'er thee the purple-breasted dove
Shall watch with open silver wings,
    Thou King of Kings.
Suaviole o flos Virginum,
Apparuit Rex Gentium.
"Who art thou, little King of Kings?"
His wondering mother sings.