Robert Southwell

The Burning Babe

AS I in hoary winter's night
    Stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat
    Which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye
    To view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright
    Did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat,
    Such floods of tears did shed,
As though His floods should quench His flames,
    Which with His tears were bred:
'Alas!' quoth He, 'but newly born
    In fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts
    Or feel my fire but I!
'My faultless breast the furnace is;
    The fuel, wounding thorns;
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke;
    The ashes, shames and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on,
    And Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought
    Are men's defiled souls:
For which, as now on fire I am
    To work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath,
    To wash them in my blood.'
With this He vanish'd out of sight
    And swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind
    That it was Christmas Day.

About the poet
Robert Southwell
By the same poet
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