Skip to main content

Epiphany 2006

The year is only nearly new.
The house is plain once more.
My life so free and prosperous:
I thank you, luck of draw.

Just as we tire of feasting
Here comes another feast.
Messiah has been recognised
By Gentiles from the East.

To set beside the tributes
My holy book records
My only contribution is
These inexpensive words:

In Israel, would-be Palestine,
Iraq, Afghanistan,
The evidence is scanty
Of the brotherhood of man.

When Christians, Muslims, Jews exchange
Their gifts of hate and fear
And not a token truce detains
Destruction’s working year;

When Herod and the priests compete
To bring the greater grief
By lust for land and power,
By perversion of belief;

When love your neighbour as yourself’s
A thought best left unsaid;
When mothers only have their tears
To wet their baby’s head;

This much we see, by reason’s light,
And not a guiding star’s:
The madness in religion
And the wickedness in wars.

The caravan has packed and gone,
Gone home another way.
For now, the wise men see no point
In lengthening their stay.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by Peter Hetherington