Written 7 years after “THIS CHRISTMAS WHY NOT. . .” (see MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #6), I was 29, beginning nursing school. This Advent-centered poem interweaves both 1st and 2nd Advent themes, coloring the Nativity’s prophetic anticipation with an apocalyptic, end-time premonition....
THE THREE VISIONS OF BALTHASAR
When Gaspar, Melchior and I
Had journeyed long toward the Star,
A vision came to haunt my heart;
I heard a voice call: “Balthasar!”
My world grew empty, dull and dark,
The thrill of magic left my soul,
The Star that glittered up ahead
Became in me a burning coal.
The voice that called spoke yet again.
“Behold,” it cried, and I could see
That wealth and fame and wisdom’s store
Began to faint and fade and flee,
And all I sought for years before
Seemed useless now within the night
That closed about my trembling breast,
As we rode on toward the Light.
The two Magicians heard this tale
At dawn before we stopped and slept.
They nodded silently and stared,
And Gaspar bowed his head and wept.
A second night, as we went on,
The mystic Light became a stream
That swirled and churned into a flood
That filled the smiles of every dream.
Then tragically it turned to blood,
And darkness smothered all the sky,
Until the flood began to gleam
And once again swirled up on high!
It brightly shone upon the earth
As if its beam of living Light
Would somehow give my life new birth!
And when I shared with Melchior
The second vision from the Star
He said, while gazing to the West,
“It’s well we came, O Balthasar.”
That night of brightest astral glow,
Before we came to Palestine,
My eyes upon the Silver Glare
Beheld a final startling sign:
I saw our world was filled with vice—
How rich had trampled down the poor,
How women’s flesh was sold for lust,
How every land was red with war,
How good men’s hopes were turned to dust.
I watched a billion infants scream
And starve, while cattle fed on wheat.
But some were killed before they cried,
While help to spare them met defeat.
I saw how love and justice died;
How men in passion laid with men;
How violence ran the village street:
The planet staggered in its sin!
But suddenly the Star burst forth
And many sparkles left the earth
And rose to join the raging Star.
The world below had lost its worth—
It moaned in self-made misery.
Then, purging flames fell quickly down
And quenched man’s tragic history.
A voice called softly, “Balthasar . . .”
And I looked up with fearful eye
To see the peaceful, faithful Star
Shine gently in the Western sky.
When my companions heard this too,
We vowed to leave our magic arts
And serve this King the Star announced,
To bow to Him with humble hearts.
And you who hear my mystic song,
If you are wise, as I am gray,
Will also seek to find that King,
And worship Him, and wait His day.
— David L. Hatton, 11/24/1979
(this is in Poems Between Heaven and Hell —
for purchasing it, go to My Books 4 Sale)