Poem: “Christ’s Childhood”

Christ’s Childhood

Till twelve years’ age, how Christ His childhood spent
All earthly pens unworthy were to write;
Such acts to mortal eyes He did present,
Whose worth not men but angels must recite:
No nature’s blots, no childish faults defiled,
Where grace was guide, and God did play the child.

In springing locks lay crouchèd hoary wit,
In semblant young, a grave and ancient port;
In lowly looks high majesty did sit,
In tender tongue sound sense of sagest sort:
Nature imparted all that she could teach,
And God supplied where nature could not reach.

His mirth of modest mien a mirror was;
His sadness temper’d with a mild aspect;
His eye to try each action was a glass,
Whose looks did good approve and bad correct;
His nature’s gifts, His grace, His word and deed,
Well show’d that all did from a God proceed.

Robert Southwell

Robert Southwell was born in Norfolk, England in 1561. He studied and was ordained a Jesuit priest in Rome. At his own request he was sent as a missionary to England, well knowing the dangers he faced. It was a crime for any Englishman who had been ordained as a Catholic priest to remain in England more than forty days at a time. Although he lived mostly in London, he traveled in disguise and preached secretly throughout England. He was eventually caught and imprisoned. There he wrote poems to comfort himself and his fellow prisoners. On February 21, 1595 Southwell was brought to Tyburn, where he was hanged and then quartered for treason. Southwell's writings, both in prose and verse, were extremely popular with his contemporaries. He was declared a Saint by the Catholic Church in the year 1970.