The Burning Babe

Original Text: 
Robert Southwell, St. Peter's Complaint, with other poemes (London: J. R[oberts]. for G. C[awood]., 1602). Facs.edn. (Menston: Scolar, 1971). BX 1750 .A1 E5 v. 76 St. Michael's College Library
1As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
2Surpris'd I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
3And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
4A pretty Babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
5Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
6As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
7"Alas!" quoth he, "but newly born, in fiery heats I fry,
8Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
9My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
10Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
11The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals,
12The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defiled souls,
13For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
14    So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood."
15    With this he vanish'd out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
16    And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.
Publication Start Year: 
1602
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.187; RPO 1996-2000.
Form: