Star – 7BC seen and followed by wise men from the east: Triple conjunction in Pisces of saturn,Jupiter. Acronical Sun in Virgo. Visible throughout the night; rose at sunset, set at sunrise.
Buddha took the form of a star
to lead us West
and having hundreds of miles before us
not knowing where we were going,
we packed for all eventualities;
sore feet, paper and pen
and little treats to keep our equilibrium
in strange places.
Buddha ploughed through familiar constellations
and after sun and moon had grown and died and lived again
he paused. We knew when He would incarnate
but not exactly where
and enquiring of the king in that place,
who knew where but not when,
his sage told us to go to Bethlehem.
And so it was that the star led us there.
We stopped above a deep, deep valley,
the closest to hell there is on earth
and Buddha took us into the unfathomable crack
to the town of Bethlehem.
Music played, children called, evening meals,
lights glowed from windows
making our path radiant.
He shone above a house in a courtyard
with honeysuckle in bloom and olive trees
and vines and figs.
Feeling like fizzy champagne and
a bottomless ocean
we came to the house
and saw the child in His mother’s arms
bound in a red red blanket.
She gazed at his face
but we were blinded and fell to the ground
offering treasures for love and death
and all those sightless, formless things
which fashion our world,
from a sparrow’s feather
to our rushing hearts.
Published; Obsessed with Pipework; 2005
New Year: look back, look forward, time for re-assessment. Rake through the mud, dig up weeds, plant seeds, storm and sun, inspire, expire.
‘Everything passes, everything changes, just do what you think you should do.’ Dylan, B. AND . . .
The Journey Of The Magi
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
‘Journey of the Magi’, ca. Sassetta, Sienese; 1423 – 1450. Tempera & gold on wood.