Charles Lamb

The Christening

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Arrayed--a half angelic sight--
In nests of pure baptismal white,
The mother to the font doth bring
The little, helpless, nameless thing,
With hushes soft, and mild caressing,
At once to get--a name and blessing!
Close to the babe the priest doth stand,
The sacred water at his hand,
That must assoil the soul within
From every stain of Adam's sin.
The Infant eyes the mystic scenes,
Nor knows what all this wonder means;
And now he smiles, as if to say,
"I am a Christian made to-day;"
Now, frighted, clings to nurse's hold,
Shrinking from the water cold,
Whose virtues, rightly understood,
Are, as Bethesda's waters, good--
Strange words! "The World, the Flesh, the Devil."
Poor Babe, what can it know of evil?
But we must silently adore
Mysterious truths, and not explore.
Enough for him, in after times,
When he shall read these artless rhymes,
If, looking back upon this day,
With easy conscience he can say--
"I have in part redeemed the pledge
Of my baptismal privilege
And vow, and more will strive to flee
All that my sponsors kind renounced for me.

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Charles Lamb