Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
Robert Southwell. 1561–95
  
109. 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         5
  To view what fire was near, 
A pretty babe all burning bright 
  Did in the air appear; 
Who, scorchèd with excessive heat, 
  Such floods of tears did shed,  10
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  15
  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;  20
The fuel Justice layeth on, 
  And Mercy blows the coals, 
The metal in this furnace wrought 
  Are men's defilèd souls: 
For which, as now on fire I am  25
  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,  30
And straight I callèd unto mind 
  That it was Christmas Day. 
 
 
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