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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 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, As though his floods should quench his flames which with 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 defilèd 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; And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmasday.

_--R. Southwell_

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