Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
The Burning Babe
By Robert Southwell (c. 1561–1595)
 
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 exceeding heat such floods of tears did shed,        5
As though His floods should quench His flames with what His tears were fed;
Alas! quoth He, but newly born in fiery heats of 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 shame and scorns;        10
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,        15
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas-day.
 
 
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