Did wise men from the Buddhist east
Worship the child Jesus as messiah?
If so, may not fungible god or fungi yeast
Raise dough over the same fire?
Was it reincarnated lama or messiah
The Magi come thus far to do homage?
And the heathen kindle in Christ a desire
To free all of hell’s appointed bondage?
A horse may draw a cart
But no cart a horse;
One may not seek to divorce
The head from the heart!
Suppose the head is the horse;
Suppose the heart is the cart;
Let the head in scientific discourse
Husband the wifely heart.
Let the horse as the p antecedent
Draw the cart as the q consequent;
In discourse, mind your Ps and Qs;
And give the devil his dues;
In fair words say your pieces,
Skew not truth or recuse;
Just mind you your pleases;
Say you your thank yous
Notes for Horse and Cart
When a Dalai Lama (or some other godly lama) dies, Tibetans monks set out in search of his reincarnated soul. It is conceivable that the magi who worshipped the babe Jesus were such Buddhist monks. Tibetan lore and Buddhist scriptures assert that Jesus trained as a monk in India and Tibet before returning to Israel where he was later crucified. Following his resuscitation, he returned to India and Tibet where he is thought to have lived out his remaining years. Buddhists and Christians alike, note that their beliefs are similarly pacific and non-violent in nature. One common saying in the two religions is ‘Do unto others what you will have others do undo you.’
Lama: devout Buddhist leader
Divorce/The head from the heart: reason must go with sentiments
Hell’s appointed bondage: damnation in hell
Verses 5 and 6:
1. The horse drawing the cart analogy (first mentioned in verse 2) is likened to a ‘if p therefore q argument’;
2. In like manner, metaphorically, it is valid to assert that a horse (p) may pull a cart but a fallacy to assert that a cart (q) may pull a horse.
6. Likewise, in verses 1 and 2, the poem is asserting that it is NOT because the babe Jesus is the Christ or messiah that that the magi (wise men) sought him out; rather, it is because the child was visited by the magi that he sought to become the Christ. This is hinted at by the analogy that one may contend that leavened bread which is raised by ‘fungi yeast’ is possibly raised by a ‘fungible god’. Ironically, the word ‘fungible’ suggests that Buddhists and Christians may inadvertently and ‘interchangeably’ be worshipping the same God – which in Christendom is taboo!
7. It is important to note that the poem does NOT assert that the horse and cart analogy is a ‘if p therefore q argument’ but is merely likened to one.
8. The use of p antecedent and q consequent reminds the poet of ‘mind your Ps and Qs’.
Ps and Qs variably stand for ‘pints’ and ‘quarts’ and ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous’.
In a ‘discourse’, implicitly, one must not get ‘drunk’ but be fair, objective and polite.
This poem is part of the Poetry Book Arrow of Time