Last updated on Sept. 5, 2000
Saint John of the Cross
The Obscure Night of the Soul
Upon an obscure night
Fevered with love in love's anxiety
(O hapless-happy plight!),
I went, none seeing me,
Forth from my house where all things be.
By night, secure from sight,
And by the secret stair, disguisedly,
(O hapless-happy plight!)
By night, and privily,
Forth from my house where all things quiet be.
Blest night of wandering,
In secret, where by none might I be spied
Nor I see anything;
Without a light or guide,
Save that which in my heart burnt in my side.
That light did lead me on,
More surely than the shining of noontide,
Where well I knew that one
Did for my coming bide;
Where He abode, might none but He abide.
O night that didst lead thus,
O night more lovely than the dawn o light,
O night that broughtest us,
Lover to lover's sight,
Lover with loved in marriage of delight!
Upon my flowery breast
Wholly for Him, and save Himself for none,
There did I give sweet rest
To my beloved one;
The fanning of the cedars breathed thereon.
When the first moving air
Blew from the tower and waved His looks aside,
His hand, with gentle care,
Did wound me in the side,
And in my body all my senses died.
All things I then forgot,
My cheek on Him who for my coming came;
All ceased, and I was not,
Leaving my cares and shame
Among the lilies, and forgetting them.
Arthur Symons (translator)
From: Hispanic Anthology: Poems Translated from the Spanish by English and North American Poets, collected and arranged by Thomas Walsh. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1920.