from "The Ephiphany"

The Child upon Our Lady's lap
The kings bowed down before :
To see this wonder, by good hap,
The slaves thronged at the door.

The first king fell upon his face :
' O Child, a sign behold ;
The princes of the Gentile race
Offer a gift of gold.'
Our Lady shuddered in her place,
For riches men are sold.

' I wot that when thou goest up
Unto thy throne of might,
'Tis I shall bear the golden cup,
And come into thy sight.'

Humbly the second king kneeled down.
' O Child, thy dignity
Behold, in frankincense foreshown,
Take thou this gift from me.'
Our Lady covered with her gown
Her eyes from perjury.

I wot that when with offering
Thou seest thy Father's face,
'Tis I that shall the censer swing
In that most holy place.'

The third stood forth and bowed his head.
' I bring a gift of myrrh.'
Our Lady crossed herself for dread
When he looked down on her.
' I bring a gift, O Child,' he said,
' Meet for thy sepulchre.

' I wot that when thy lips are dumb
And men defile thy head,
'Tis I shall wait thee till thou come
To be among the dead.

' When thou art neither king nor priest,
Thou shalt be friend to me,
When thou of all slain men art least,
' Tis I shall neighbour thee.

Charles Williams
Poems of Conformity

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