“The Burning Babe”: a poem by Fr. Robert Southwell, S.J.
December 30, 2009 Leave a comment
Fr. Victor Badillo, S.J. sent us a poem for Christmas, saying:
May the burning Babe fill your heart with burning love and zeal. In lieu
of a Christmas card, here is the poem composed by Robert shivering and
hungry in a cold prison awaiting his life-giving death at the hands of the
executioner of Elizabeth.
THE BURNING BABE.
By Robert Southwell, sj
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, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As tho his floods should quench his flames which w his tears were fed.
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 shame and scorns ;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defilëd 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 callëd unto mind that it was Christmas day.