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The Dark Night of the Soul

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I thought it was about time this beautiful poem by St. John of the Cross had an airing.  Below is quite a nice English translation and the original Spanish.  Many people use the phrase 'dark night of the soul' to refer to a depressive state but actually that's wrong - it refers to an ecstatic state of union or 'non-duality' between a person and God.  Read on ....


Songs of the soul rejoicing at having achieved the high state of perfection, the Union with God, by way of spiritual negation.


Once in the dark of night,

Inflamed with love and yearning, I arose

(O coming of delight!)

And went, as no one knows, 

When all my house lay long in deep repose


All in the dark went right,

Down secret steps, disguised in other clothes, 

(O coming of delight!)

In dark when no one knows, 

When all my house lay long in deep repose.


And in the luck of night

In secret places where no other spied 

I went without my sight

Without a light to guide

Except the heart that lit me from inside.


It guided me and shone

Surer than noonday sunlight over me,

And led me to the one

Whom only I could see

Deep in a place where only we could be.


O guiding dark of night!

O dark of night more darling than the dawn!

O night that can unite

A lover and loved one,

Lover and loved one moved in unison.


And on my flowering breast

Which I had kept for him and him alone 

He slept as I caressed

And loved him for my own,

Breathing an air from redolent cedars blown.



And from the castle wall 

The wind came down to winnow through his hair

Bidding his fingers fall,

Searing my throat with air

And all my senses were suspended there. 


I stayed there to forget.

There on my lover, face to face, I lay.

All ended, and I let

My cares all fall away

Forgotten in the lilies on that day.



Cançiones del alma que se goça d’auer llegado al alto estado de la perfecçion, que es la union con Dios, por el camino de la negaçion espiritual


En una noche obscura,

con ansias en amores imflamada,

¡oh dichosa uentura!

sali sin ser notada,

estando ya mi casa sosegada.


A escuras y segura,

por la secreta escala disfraçada,

¡oh dichosa uentura!

a escuras y ençelada,

estando ya mi casa sosegada.


En la noche dichosa,

en secreto, que nadie me ueya,

ni yo miraua cosa,

sin otra luz ni guia

sino la que en el coraçon ardia.


Aquesta me guiaua

mas cierto que la luz del mediodia,

adonde me esperaua

quien yo bien me sabia,

en parte donde nadie parecia.


¡Oh noche que me guiaste!

¡oh noche amable mas que el aluorada!,

¡oh noche que juntaste

amado con amada,

amada en el amado transformada!


Y en mi pecho florido,

que entero para el solo se guardaua,

alli quedo dormido,

y yo le regalaua,

y el ventalle de cedros ayre daua.


El ayre de la almena,

cuando ya sus cabellos esparzia,

con su mano serena

en mi cuello heria,

y todos mis sentidos suspendia.


Quedeme y oluideme,

el rostro recline sobre el amado,

ceso todo, y dexeme,

dexando mi cuidado

entre las açucenas olvidado.

Edited by Apech
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