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Friday, December 17, 2010

Poem: "The Burning Babe" by Robert Southwell, S.J.

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 signs 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 vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
and straight I called unto my mind that it was Christmas Day.

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