Sacra Culla believed to contain a relic of Jesus's manger at the Basilica di Santa Maria MaggioreA Sonnet for the Feast of the Three Kings (with Audio) by Joseph Charles MacKenzie The Society January 6, 2018 Beauty, Culture, Poetry, Readings 16 Comments https://classicalpoets.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/40_Forty-One.mp3 Sonnet XLI – Gifts of the Magi A grander throne than Solomon’s of old, Though wrought of rough-hewn wood and winter hay, Received the royal deference of gold From one who watched a star, by night and day. A nobler incense, burning without end, Nor gathered from the bleeding of a tree, Received the homage, from an eastern friend, Of earthly resin’s scent, on bended knee. And He whose very body was his balm When He was laid within the frigid tomb, Received the myrrh foretelling death’s dead calm Before life’s dawning at the end of doom. And wise men ever since their best gifts bring To render justice to so just a King. In Epiphania Domini, Anno MMXVI From Sonnets for Christ the King Joseph Charles MacKenzie is a traditional lyric poet, First Place winner of the Scottish International Poetry Competition (Long Poem Section). His poetry has appeared in The New York Times, The Scotsman (Edinburgh), The Independent (London), US News and World Report, Google News, and many other outlets. He writes primarily for the Society of Classical Poets (New York). Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) 16 Responses Bruce E. Wren January 6, 2018 Just one of the gems from MacKenzie’s superb sonnet sequence “Sonnets for Christ the King”. There is also a very fine audio version available through Audible. Very fitting poem for this January 6th (which is also, by the way, the birthday of St. Joan of Arc). Reply Joseph Charles MacKenzie January 6, 2018 Speaking of St. Joan of Arc, readers would be delighted to know that Bruce Edward Wren—one of the original Ars Poetica Nova poets whose works were never tainted by modernism— produced two exquisite poems on The Maid of Orléans during two separate visits to Le Crotoy, where Sainte Jeanne had been imprisoned before she was taken to Rouen for her famous trial. The second of these two masterpieces contains an unforgettable, “you are there,” evocation of La Baie de Somme. I cannot more ardently recommend Bruce Edward Wren’s beautiful, 141-page collection entitled, “Fending Off the Dragon Fire,” where these poems appear. The book is a veritable “festival of forms,” but also, in my mind, one of the finest examples of Ars Poetica Nova lyricism yet produced, very fresh and engaging, absolutely lovely poetry. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Fending-off-Dragon-Fire-Selected/dp/151213144X Reply Bruce E. Wren January 7, 2018 Thank you, Joseph, for your generous support and praise. May you have a blessed 2018! Amy Foreman January 6, 2018 Beautiful, meaningful, and uplifting sonnet, Mr. MacKenzie! Reply Joseph Charles MacKenzie January 6, 2018 Many thanks, dear Amy. May yours be a holy and happy Epiphany this year! Reply Sam Gilliland January 6, 2018 Gosh, Joseph, You maintain the same high standard that saw us meet in Irvine as well as bringing delight to so many others with your poetry. You always seem to transfer the subject to something greater and thus capture the reader. Frankly, I know nothing about Epiphany but revel in your obvious delight in perpetuating feelings of human nature. Aye & aye, Sam. Reply Joseph Charles MacKenzie January 7, 2018 Thank you, Sam Gilliland. In your part of the world, Epiphany often goes by the name of Twelfth Night. It is, after all, the twelfth of the forty days of the Christmas cycle. Epiphany is therefore a cycle within a cycle as a whole liturgical octave is attached to it. On this night we commemorate the great Theophany (ἡ θεοφάνεια), or “showing forth of God” through the appearance not only of the Holy Infant, but also the three Magi. Each year on this night, we take a piece of specially blessed chalk and write the initials of the three Wise Men on the lintel of our doors along with the number of the current year thus: 20 C+M+B 18. 20 is for the millennium, 18 for the year of Our Lord. C is for Caspar, M for Melchior, and B for Balthasar. However, the initials also form the acrostic “Christus mansionem benedicat.” Christ blesses this house.” During this ceremony, Our Blessed Lady’s Magnificat is read. After all the prayers are recited, the head of the home goes throughout the house with Epiphany water (holy water which is specially blessed on this day) and blesses every room of the house. This is also a minor exorcism. When performed by a priest, incense is used (although it can also be used by lay folk as well). The meditation focuses on the Gifts of the Magi: gold for the Great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial. These constitute the symbolic “scaffolding,” if your will, of Sonnet 41 from the Sonnets for Christ the King. Reply David Watt January 6, 2018 Mr. MacKenzie, your formula always manages to create sonnets which are pleasing to both mind and ear. Reply Joseph Charles MacKenzie January 7, 2018 Thank you, Mr. Watt, for your most gracious comment. Do you know that the formula you speak of is unknown to me? A priest told me I will not know the formula in this life. Reply David Watt January 7, 2018 The formula, though unknown, still allows blending to correct proportions. Crise de Abu Wel January 7, 2018 “And wise men ever since their best gifts bring To render justice to so just a King.” At the Portal of Immortality from Matthew 2: 1-14. by Crise de Abu Wel Now Jesus was born in the Bethlehem of Judea in the time of Herod the King. And, lo, behold, there came some men from the East, across the hard and arid land to the city of Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the King of the Jews laid? We have seen his star in the Eastern sky.” This so troubled King Herod that he called upon all of the chief priests and the scribes; and he inquired where the Christ was installed. They told him what the prophet had descried, and when he heard all about it, it galled. When the magi reached the humble manger, they gave the babe gold, frankincense, and myrrh to crown him, anoint him, and, oh, stranger by far, to preserve him, to him inter; so when the magi left, sensing danger, Joseph fled to Egypt to escape death. Reply Fr. Richard Libby January 9, 2018 This is a wonderful tribute to the wonderful feast of the Epiphany! Congratulations, Mr. MacKenzie! Reply Joseph Charles MacKenzie January 12, 2018 Many thanks, Fr. Libby, for your appreciation. May yours be a holy and happy season of Epiphany. Reply David Hollywood January 10, 2018 As always, marvelous poetry. Thank you for such seasonally appreciative imagery. Reply Joseph Charles MacKenzie January 12, 2018 Thank you, David. Yes, the Sonnets for Christ the King very roughly follow the liturgical year, so there are Christmas poems, Easter poems, Advent poems, and so forth. In his review of my work, Dr. Salemi calls the Sonnets for Christ the King “a liturgically mediated conversation with God.” I believe this is the most accurate description. Reply James Sale January 16, 2018 Fascinating and beautiful. In this particular case, as the poet struggles to express the inexpressible – and succeeds – we get that repetitive, tautology of language whereby saying something once simply isn’t emphatic enough to convey the sense: “death’s dead calm” and ” justice to so just” – love it. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.