The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Robertson Davies on the Three Kings

The late Roberston Davies, in
The Rebel Angels (1981), depicts a discussion over a handmade creche between an Anglican priest, the Rev. Simon Darcourt, and Yerko Laoutaro, a Gypsy restorer of musical instruments, in which the priest learns something about the Gifts of the Magi:
"Everybody owes a gift to Bebby Jesus," said Yerko. "Even kings. Look, here are the kings; I made the crowns myself. You know what they bring?"

"The first brings a gift of Gold," said Darcourt, turning toward the creche.

"Yes, Gold . . . But Gold was not all. The other kings bring Frank Innocence and Mirth."

Darcourt was startled, then delighted. "That is very fine, Yerko; is it your own?"

No, it is in the story. I saw it in New York. The kings say, we bring you Gold, Frank Innocence, and Mirth."

"Sancta simplicitas, said Darcourt, raising his eyes to mine. "If only there were more Mirth in the message He has left to us. We miss it sadly, in the world we have made. And Frank Innocence. Oh, Yerko, you dear man."
Scriptural? No more so than depicting them as Kings, and assigning them names, as the Archbishop of Canterbury recently pointed out. It's a fable, a parable, if you will, but with a point. And so, on the feast of the Epiphany, I'll wish you--not necessarily gold, but daily bread, and, especially Frank Innocence and Mirth.

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