Saint John of the Cross: The Dark Night of the Soul (From Spanish)

A number of Catholic readers have emailed me with devotional questions regarding this poem. Let the reader be informed that I am not equipped to answer such queries as I am not Catholic. In point of fact, I am an atheist. 

Dark Night of the Soul
By St. John of the Cross
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Spanish

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 wanting, 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 lead 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.

The Original:

La Noche Oscura Del Alma
San Juan De La Cruz

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.

78 comments:

  1. A.Z.F.,

    This comment isn't specifically on this translation - but certainly thank you for it anyway. I found this site because I serendipitously became interested in "Dark Night of The Soul".

    However, in reading your personal interests in linguistics and poem translations I had to recommend a book which you don't list in your favorites. And I saw no way to send you a personal email.

    Have you read Douglas R Hofstadter's "Le Ton Beau Du Marot"? It's a wonderful discourse about the process of translating poetry. I just have an amateur interest in lingustics, but I lioved the book. It's so much more than my meager description.

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  2. My knowledge of Spanish is minimal, so I cannot appreciate the original in its native tongue, but even in translation John of the Cross' poem remains one of the most beautiful works of poetry I know. His explanation of the poem is still the surest, most clear, most precise, if most auster works of spirituality I know of and that is because he never allows us to pull any punches, never allows us to take refuge from our own reality in some comfortable self-delusion. I suspect he will always be the greatest authority on the spiritual life in Western Christianity.

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  3. Recently i consulted a psychiatrist who is also a friend and found out that, as regards clinical depression, he "lean[s] toward the dark night of the soul" for an explanation. As a former sufferer/beneficiary of this process myself, i tend to agree with him. May all beings be well and happy, Layman Don

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  4. I remember John Michael Talbot's translation, on the album The lover and the beloved, and the later song "Foretold encounter". Loreena McKennitt also made a song of it.

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  5. Thank you for this translation. Are you familiar with the work of the Canadian musician Loreena McKennitt? She has a lovely arrangement (her own translation) of the poem on her album "Mask and Mirror."

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  6. His explanation is a long-winded rigmarole which, when applied to the work in question, makes the poem an infinitely worse, one dimensional caricature of its former self. Count me out.

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  7. Hi, I think your translation is beautiful and captures the spirit of the original very well. Having done some (less capable) verse translations myself I completely agree with your sound-and-sense choices.

    I also completely understand where you're coming from with your view of the Christian God. I spent 10 years or so with a bad Catholic Guilt complex which came from that same sense of injustice: if God could really be mad at me for things that are not within my control (sexual thoughts, etc.) then He's some weird sadistic boarding school teacher trying to catch me in a mistake so he can give me a bad grade on my spiritual life and hopefully flunk me out altogether (hell). That thought made me pissed at God and pissed at the self-righteous people who were telling me to just accept that kind of emotional abuse.

    However, about a year ago I finally asked an actual priest about this. (All my knowledge of what was sin/what wasn't were from half-educated laypeople, Bible-kissing baptist kids from school, divorcee "converts," anonymous blog-posters and the like.) I said almost exactly what you said, although not mentioning the blowjob part of course. :) And the priest said, basically, that committing a serious sin (a mortal sin, in Catholic language) is way way WAY harder than most people think it is. If you can't control it, God isn't going to be mad at you about it. That's the first rule of thumb. If you're in doubt in your conscience about whether it's wrong, decide in your own favor. Basically he said that you have to do something "in coldblood" for it to be a serious sin - otherwise it's just a venial sin (Catholic-ese for "fault" or "weakness") and God, being Just, is not going to hold you responsible for something you can't help! The priest also said anything you do and don't feel in control of (masturbation, in many contexts) is just that - a weakness, something to work on if you're wanting to "perfect" yourself, but not something serious enough to get in the way of your love of God or God's love of you.

    Sorry for the length. The point of this is that John of the Cross was one of the few Christian saints who really emphasized the literal truth of "God is love." Many Christians (and MANY blog commenters, oy ve) use the word God to mean something completely un-Godlike. Whenever a "Christian" tells you something about God that doesn't fit in with Love, it isn't something to be taken at face value.

    Sorry to type your ear off (?) I just really hate seeing someone else under the same misapprehension that made me miserable and conflicted for so many years. God is Love - anything that isn't Love isn't God. That's it. And John of the Cross agrees.
    -Caroline

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  8. any being who thinks God is only an asshole human, or anything resembling the qualities of a human hasn't gotten it yet..... read this poem a couple hundred more times, man. it will help.

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  9. Nah, I don't think he resembles human. For him to do that he'd have to exist.

    If you can tell me how it is in any way okay that a supposedly infinitely merciful being (human or not) would *tell you what you're allowed to think in your own head* (and threaten to punish you otherwise), do tell. I'm listening. Really, I am. Cause it sounds pretty damn orwellian to me.

    I have always found it peculiar that people rationalize this kind of divine thought-policing to me while claiming that I've just misunderstood God. It makes faith sound like Stockholm Syndrome.

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  10. Well, that's quite an easy answer - all religions and mysticisms are roads to an internal transformation of a human being, with the old imperfect being dying and the new perfect one emerging.

    As the transformation is internal, what you think is of course a lot more important than what you do. It's not rocket science.

    Complaining that you can't advance in Christinity if you think 'dirty thoughts' is like complaining that buddhism is sadistic because if you have thoughts in your head while meditating, you won't attain enlightenment (and therefore, will suffer).

    Or to remain completely material, like complaining that when you eat a poisonous mushroom, you will die in great pains.

    In all three cases, it's your bussiness what you put in your mouth (or head). But you have to live with the consequences(=suffering).

    Only it seems that when the Christian God si involved, modern people seem to take it a lot more personally ;-)

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  11. You seem to be under the impression that I think Buddhism is somehow a better alternative. I don't. People probably take it more personally because the (Judeo-)Christian is, quite simply, seen and portrayed as a very personal God. So when it appears he is described as acting like some cosmic clone of Jim Jones, I am all the more revolted at the idea of drinking the kool-aide in the communion cup.

    One of your analogies is also specious. If I eat poisoned Mushrooms, I will suffer and die. This is not a matter of faith. Hell, Heaven and Enlightenment are matters of faith, as they do not start with a premise based on the provable. Also, people have a great deal more control over whether they eat something or don't, than over the precise manner in which the neurons fire in their own heads.

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  12. Well, about the dark nights of the soul, I think almost all saints have experienced this in their lives, the only thing they became a saint, is because they do not stop coming closer to God in spite of all spiritual dryness and sufferings they have encountered, some of them felt that God had abandoned them already because of their sinfulness but then they persevere up the last breath and they became a saint.

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  13. This is the 16th translation of this poem I've read, and is better than many, not as good as some. I've made my own translation, which differs from others in some important points. I hope it is not out of place for me to post it here, by way of comparison.

    Dark Darkness

    In a dark darkness,
    burning in a love-lit longing
    (Happy happiness!),
    I went, none seeing,
    my household calm at my going;

    in a safe darkness,
    hid, to the secret stair coming
    (Happy happiness!),
    darknes entrapping,
    my household calm at my going;

    in the happy dark,
    secretly (no one kept vigil
    and none did I mark),
    with no guide rival
    my heart's burning fuel.

    That light guided me
    (more certain than the midday light)
    where he waited me,
    whom I knew aright,
    where there was nobody in sight.

    O dark which guided!
    Dark with no sunrise lovelier!
    Dark which united
    lover with lover,
    transforming lover into lover!

    My blossomed bosom
    I only kept for him only -
    he soft rested some.
    A gift presently -
    the breeze that brushed each cedar tree!

    Then there came a wind
    from the castle, as I parted
    his hair. His soft hand
    struck my neck, wounded
    it, all my senses suspended.

    I remained, forgot,
    my head to my lover given.
    I ceased all forgot,
    forgot love even,
    among white lilies forgotten.

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  14. Enjoyed reading this, thanks for posting :)

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  15. At first I was a bit intrigued by your views in the comments until I came across the absolute vulgar ones and the ones where you spewed hatred like venom...then I realized you are the typical hate filled person who lashes out at anyone who disagrees with you with filth, crude humor and malice.

    I hope you find your light someday and can stop being so negative.

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  16. John Michael Talbot's translation was actually made by Kieran Kavanaugh, and can be found on "The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross" translated by Kavanaugh & Otilio Rodriguez.

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  17. I have translated all of the poems of John of the Cross.  If you're interested contact me at onionjuice@cbpu.com

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  18. pas mal comme idée !
    merci de faire partager !
    trop top

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  19. Hate-filled? I suppose it's fair to say that I hate the despotism of any belief-system that convicts its adherents of thought-crime. But really, if "vulgar" comments and humor turn you off, then stop reading blogs. Perhaps you ought to go read sanitized Haute Littérature while wearing elbow-pads. This I do not pretend to offer. I'm not a decorous academic, or even a shit-on-brains schoolmarm. I'm just some guy on the internet.

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  20. I'm not fluent in Spanish so I can't comment on the interpretation as to its accuracy, but I think your interpretation is the most beautiful one I have read.  Most other interpretations fall flat and are not a joy to read.  I've ready yours over and over.  Oh coming of delight!

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  21. St John of the Cross might be sainted and he might have been a very good Christian (by the standards of the day)  but he was also a man. 'Children of God' and excursions from celibacy  are legendary down the ages. Priests are human beings and celibacy is not a natural state. Yes, it's a beautiful poem, but I think we have made completely unreal and fanciful assumptions about what it describes.

    By all means appreciate it as a lyrical ove poem, but allow the author to have written it as a man and not a priest - IMO it takes nothing from it as a literary work or even from the author as a man of faith, if he later returned to his calling.

    I was brought to look up info about St John of the Cross as a result of listening to Loreena McKennitt's translation and musical setting, not for any religious reason. There is good sense here from some of the other commenters but also an awful lot of rubbish that does Christianity's reputation no good at all.What do I believe? I'm a born again pagan who gets VERY angry to hear Britain described as a Christian country - only by dint of a genocidal put-down of our native culture and beliefs. And I happen to love poetry.

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  22. Unless you have been in the Dark night of the soul, it is hard to appreciate what it is like. My 18 yr old son had encephalitis last year and this year has been left with an extremely sensitive brain and psychosis which is not reacting as hoped with the medication. Thank you for posting the poem on the internet. I am hoping the mystics are correct, as it will give some purpose to this experience that our family is going through.

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  23. Hi,
     My heart goes out to you. The mystics are correct, yet, they are correct in their experiences with, God as you call Him. 
     Once, for you, this happened. A person who was in a state which would be considered tragic, was approached by a mystic, a Christian Mystic. The mystic sensed something special about this child. He told his father. The father of the child he told. The sister of this man spoke. She asked what was being said. The mystic, told her. 
     The father said, yes, he sensed a special relationship that this child had with Jesus. The mystic knew, this was just one of types of special relationships that had been experienced. He, this mystic told the daughter, that Jesus loved this child, then 18 or so, in a very special way.
     For, the rest of you, some are Mary's daughters. Others are Paul's through Jesus Christ. Some are in training as Mary's daughters. Others are mature as Mary's daughters. 
     There is much more, Marilyn. If it helps, I am in the Dark night of the soul. What is written about the feeling and misunderstandings about what is taking place is quite real. My realization that this is temporary is helping. 
     Why knowing this poem helped you, I do not know. Why knowing that God is Real, I can guess. For you, I will do this. I will ask my espoused, and Jesus Christ to give you the strength, the knowledge to accept what you are going through. 
     With much Love,
     ...Me....
     

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  24. i dont know if im a christian, i grew up in a christian household with christian friends and went to church every sunday. but it never really clicked for me. i guess my perspective on it is that god is merciful and gracious that's why he saved us from hell and eternal damnation. and ha have you read the new testament at all?

    "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

    i dunno if that makes sense to you or not, but God doesn't require us to be perfect. We should want to live fulfilling lives because he has saved us. its not a do good or die, its a i want you to not want to do bad things because i love you. but dont think that god was jus like oh well as long as they worship me, they're all good in my books. god still needed a sacrifice that would make his judgement fair. which is why he sent jesus down to be perfect his entire live so that we dont have to be. but we shouldnt run around partyin it up cuz we're saved so we can do bad stuff and get away with it cuz god is graceful. we should want to follow his laws. they were given to us to help us. not hurt us or make us feel guilty or sad. ha its rough to explain and to understand. some people never get it. but i dont think you should be a christian if you dont want to be. but god's arms are always open. i dunno, maybe you could look some more into it? its pretty interesting to hear what the bible has to say, even if you arnt looking at it to be converted haha its like this old literature you like reading, just... different?

    oh and im sorry bout all these crazy christian peeps who keep bugging you tryin to convert you haha. it should be your decision, not theirs. and them acting like idiots isnt gonna make you wanna change your beliefs anytime soon.

    -hope you figure everything out

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  25. once again, do you know the background behind the fig tree story? it's supposed to be an analogy. the fig tree represents a christian and he curses a christian for not bearing fruit (sharing the gospel). once we've heard the good news, it would be foolish not to at least try and share it with others.
    god speaks through analogies alot because it helps us understand big fought over ideas better. the analogies prolly have some flaws if you look hard enough, but it helps.

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  26. what catechism are you reading?? haha never read that one, but yeah many christians have different views on different subjects, some completely opposing each other. but i dont think you have to confess things. god knows your heart and mind so what you think, he already knows that you think so theres no point in reminding him about it. ha i find that dumb. and yes some christians have multiple affairs, some deal drugs, some beat their wives or kids, and some have even killed people. but its because we arnt perfect! ha we may be christians, but that does not mean that we dont struggle with the same things non christians struggle with. we just desire to pursue more than just what life can bring. god puts people into situations where they will indeed be tempted to do the wrong thing, and chances are, some christians would do the wrong thing. then afterwards when we do feel guilty we jus need to remember what god did for us and how much he loves us even though we are such filthy sinners!

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  27. i agree with a.z... sort of. ha i dont think that he lashed out at the other guys at all. you gotta give him credit, he did a good job of defending his beliefs, even if you dont agree with him. he simply asked mind racking questions that challenged the other readers. i honestly thank him for answering those people, it made me think about things differently.

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  28. Really?

    > god still needed a sacrifice that would make his judgement fair.
    > which
    is why he sent jesus down to be perfect his entire live so
    > that we dont
    have to be.

    Point 1: Is it at all sensible to believe an innocent being's sacrifice can actually atone for the wrongs of the guilty?
    Is it even moral to believe that?
    How is it not merely a whipping-boy wearing metaphysical mask? How is this in any way "fair", as you put it?

    Point 2: I fail to see either love or beneficence worthy of the name in a Father who insists on showing "universal love" by subjecting his own son to such cruelty as would be unimaginable save from the most evil and inhuman of human parents.
    Would you willingly allow your own son to endure what Christ ostensibly did?
    Would you call it a moral act if anyone else did?
    Does the paradox of God in essence being his own son really make a difference?
    Even if it somehow does, is it reasonable that I should find the latter claim at all worth considering in the first place?
    Even that notwithstanding, even assuming that the God of Judaism and/or Christianity is real, should anybody be taking their pointers on morality from a being who had shown himself willing to do things like order the Jews to commit Genocide? Yeah, Genocide- as in Samuel 1:

    Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I
    have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when
    they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to
    destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and
    woman, and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey."(1 Sam. 15:2-3).

    Indeed, Saul's refusal to participate in this Holy Holocaust ends up costing him the kingship later on.
    Should anyone do anything but curse the name of a being that was willing to screw around with Job just to prove a point all as part of a literal deal with the Devil? (To give credit where it's due: at least Jews have often been sensible enough not to assume that Satan there was the literal Devil of Christian imagination.)

    >its pretty interesting to hear what the bible has to say, even if you
    arnt looking
    >at it to be converted haha its like this old literature you
    like reading, just...
    >different?

    I've actually read my Bible cover to cover, which is probably more than can be said for most Christians. I read classical Hebrew quite well, and my Koine Greek is serviceable- and so I haven't really needed a translation. In fact, I myself have even translated some of the poems contained in the Hebrew Bible such as this and this and this. If anything, that solidified my impression that
    Judaism and Christianity- like every other religion to which I have been exposed- contain utter
    s bullshit passing itself off as an explanation of the workings of the cosmos.

    Good day

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  29. Wow, and people in this comment-box think I'm patronizing. At least I mix my condescension with irony.

    Self-abasement and servility are hardly moral positions in and of themselves. Especially not when the justification is the ostensible morality of cosmic infanticide. Oh and if you think atheists don't strive to accomplish or pursue "more than just what life can bring", just talk to a good parent who is an atheist, and who (as my own father, who is an atheist, most assuredly does) wants more for their child than they themselves received. One doesn't need to believe in god to not be a materialistic ass.

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  30. Lol saint John of the cross was gay.  Thats not what I expected when I started researching it, I thought it had something to do with being really sad but I guess he could only find the time to be with his boy toy at night.  forgive me if I sound crass. 

    Why does everyone here speak for God?  Get back to eternity people and leave his ass out of it.

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  31. I wouldn't say that God tells us what to do, but it's simply guidelines to follow.  I'm no where near perfect, but I know when people do follow this to the best of their abilities, myself as well, life honestly seems better.  I mean think of the 10 commandments.  If the closest people around you lied to you, stole from you, cheated on you, whatever I just don't think that's the best kind of life.  I think that the Bible is simply a way for God to show us there is a better kind of life for us to live, and not just in heaven, but here on Earth.  And God is a very forgiving God.  Just because you screw up doesn't mean your condemned to hell, He is a God of love and can forgive us of things that most people can't forgive each other for.  And in Matthew 7:2 it says "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  I don't know, I think that's pretty fair, and we judge people all the time, and have a much harder time forgiving, if ever. I'm sorry for whoever gave you that impression of God, but that's not the God I believe in, and I was an atheist myself.  Whether you become a believer or not, I just hope that you can see God in his true light, and not this dark being.  Because yeah, if God was truly like that, I would be terrified and well that image is what kept me away from Christianity in the first place.  I don't know, just my 2cents.

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  32. Generally, I think it stupid to pass judgment on, or act as armchair psychiatrist for a long-dead person on the basis of an evaluation which shoehorns the interpretation of their writings into the framework of modern western (or any other) culture.

    The assumption that poets are always writing "what they feel" or that some profound and intense psychological/spiritual/experiential issue must lie at the heart of their abilities and literary production is laughably parochial and ironically superficial. That notion is a product of western assumptions of what makes for genius, what poetry is, and also the rather idiotic notion behind most people's use of the term "inspiration" (which for most westerners -and almost all bad western poets- is just another name for "Muse", just as "subconscious" is often treated as no different from "soul/spirit." Borrowing a term to rename a stupid concept doesn't make it any less stupid.) The whole mindset rather incidental as far as the appreciation of poetry is concerned. It has little relevance or meaning outside the modern west. Hell the roman poet Catullus even wrote a poem poking fun at a couple critics for assuming that a poem necessarily bears any relationship to what his author does, feels or wants.

    While we're on the subject, how the fuck can you diagnose latent homosexuality in a person so removed in culture and time? Do repressed homosexual feelings somehow result in a different kind of expression and literary output than the repressed *heterosexual* feelings that  probably characterizes a large number of people who lead lives of religious celibacy? And if so, how can one rule out bisexuality?  Oh and tell me why I shouldn't assume that St. John suffered, from, say, gender dysphoria  and was really a woman in a man's body? After all, the poem in this post is written from a feminine perspective, and the speaker describes herself with feminine Spanish adjectives and her lover with masculine ones.

    Moreover, if St. John of the Cross appeared to be "sad", he had reason to be. He had grown up in poverty, lived a life as a religious reformer at odds with the  establishment, and had been imprisoned in Toledo. There he was kept under a brutal regimen that included public lashing every week, and isolation in a tiny cell barely large enough for his body, deliberately kept half-starved, and given not so much as a bucket to shit in. It was DURING THIS IMPRISONMENT/TORTURE that he wrote much of his poetry.

    So yeah, he was a little under the weather. What a fucking shock.

    Are you a half-aware 15-year-old shitwit, or are you just that good at sounding like one?

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  33. darkness is merely the absence of light, nothingness, and satan only exists in such a conciousness.  if you abide in the Word, you will know the truth and then will the truth set you free.

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  34. You have educated me a great deal with your response sir and thank you for the put down, it was much needed as my ignorance of great liturature appears to be a pit from which there is no bottom.  I am under-educated and not aware at all concerning where this poem came from, at least until your response.  Thank you for opening my eyes to this "genius", I guess I forgot there were talented writers holding those pens.

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  35. one of the goals fo translation is to convey meaning from one language to another. Although you have some sense for poetic expression, your translation is very innacurate. I am a native speaker of Spanish, so I know.
    FC

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  36. Good LORD.

    I will never cease to be surprised at just how many people there are who ostensibly care about language/poetry but are nonetheless such ignorant imbeciles as to bellyache as you do about how I was wrong to "change the meaning" or how I failed in the task of "conveying meaning."  As if the question of what meaning even is were that simple, or as if I were stupid enough that premises like yours were even worth entertaining.

    Let me ask you this. Do you suppose I am stupid and amnesic enough to read this poem and attempt to translate it without knowing, or taking the time to look up, the literal meanings? Especially with a poem like this which has been prosaically metaphrased so many times into so many different languages that I would have to be so much the greater idiot for not knowing what any given line/word/expression literally "meant" as far as modern scholarship is concerned?

    If I am not, as indeed I am not, nearly that much of a dunce- what do you suppose the reason is for what you call inaccuracies? More to the point, what makes you think that there is anything to gain by telling me about them, as if I do not know about them.

    The only conclusion one could draw is that somehow you, suffering from acute fecal encephalopathy, somehow imagined that -given all the factors I just mentioned- I was merely addleheaded enough to, say, really think that "amada en el amado transformada" literally meant anything like "lover and loved one moved in unison"?

    This is a baseless insult to my intelligence which speaks rather poorly of your own.

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  37. That's true -- I don't believe God is miffed at atheists.  Nor do I believe being a Catholic is necessary for salvation.  Nor does the Vatican believe so.  In that light, yes, it is a sort of silly choice.  Why be a Catholic if it's not necessary for salvation?  Well, I dont want to bore you by explaining, but at least I can respect myself a bit, knowing I'm not believing what I believe under duress.

    As far as the catechism paragraph you cited, note the last part, where they specify that habit, stress, etc can extenuate moral culpability. That's Vaticanese for "unless you do it in coldblood, it's not a mortal sin."  That's how the priest understood it, and how I understand it.  None of the other paragraphs have similar qualifications, except the one about prostitution where it says (justly) that if a prostitute is coerced, or poor, or pressured by external factors, it's not a mortal sin.

    The Catholic understanding of why God as Love would give rules (about whom to have sex with, etc.) is that a truly loving parent does give certain limits, to protect a beloved child. Whether to accept those limits is of course our choice.  In my personal experience, whenever I've overstepped Catholic morality I've regretted it.  So I've personally decided not to ignore good advice anymore.  But anyone who decides differently is no more at fault than a child disobeying its parents because it doesn't understand the rules.  Mischievous, in most cases, and little more.  Its parents are not going to stop loving it because of its mischief.

    Thanks for your good wishes.  If I am creating God in my own image, I have to say I'm impressed with myself.  Best wishes to you - and as long as you're staying atheist, have lots of sex for me, please.  Thanks!

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  38. You can't argue with them.
    How can you argue with people who believe they were created by a being for no other purpose but his amusement and worship?Don't try.Use your valuable time to beautifully translate more poetry, please.

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  39. Oh, and BTW, I would LOVE to see you translate Parmenides' "On Nature"...
    There's a piece of antiquity that is full of (mistranslated) wisdom.

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  40. This is my favorite poem. I like your translation a bit better than the standard; it's more tender, more intimate with a better ryhme. Good work.

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  41. Thank you for the beautiful translation. I was moved by it on many levels.

    I think you may have meant to write "led" instead of "lead" here:

    And lead me to the oneWhom only I could see

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  42. Yes, please, I agree. The only thing mankind has ever truly seemed to worship is himself.

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  43. Maravillosa traducción. Un abrazo desde Barcelona.

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  44. A.Z.. you sound like an angry person. I wonder why an atheist cares so much to dispute something that he doesn't believe. Just go about being an atheist. Not an angry atheist. Oh and Jesus loves you.

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  45. When He appears, you will know Him!! And He will know you.

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  46. Sorry AZ, your translation is not very good, you are changing the meaning of the sentences.
    For example "con ansias en amores inflamada" means that anxiety has inflamed itself into love.
    And you Spanish version if full of mistakes...where did you get it from?

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  47.  The Spanish version is in the orthography of St. John's time. I saw little point in modernizing the spelling. 



    If the "ansias" were inflamed into love, then they would be
    "inflamadas"  and show plural agreement. The singular agreement suggests
    that the adjective refers to something else, presumably the speaker of
    the poem (who elsewhere refers to herself with feminine pronouns), since
    it would make scant sense for the night itself to be love-inflamed.



    I do change the meaning of sentences, usually because I'm aiming for
    something beyond literalism and dictionary-level equivalences. The way
    in which I interpret the syntactic role of "inflamada", however, is not
    an instance of this.

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  48. "I wonder why an atheist cares so much to dispute something that he doesn't believe."

    Really? Why do I challenge things that I don't believe? You think THAT's the great mystery?

    I dunno, I find it a greater mystery why someone would feel the need to -all in one post- tell me to just ease up with the atheistic disagreement and then proceed to inform me that Jesus loves me, knowing full well how such an assertion might strike me.

    It is as though you said it not for my edification so much as to satisfy a compulsion to "witness" to me.

    As far as I'm concerned, Jesus can stuff it, and here's why.

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  49.  "God had reason to want the destruction of these people. he didnt just
    wake up one day and close his eyes n pick a group of people to destroy,
    he only chose to do this after decades of these people torturing the
    israelites"

    Really? How were "woman, and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey" torturing the israelites? And what crime did infants commit, exacly?

    I'd address your other points, but your defending genocide kind of deadens them all.

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  50. No. It's not about witnessing or any such rot. Heck, the notion of "christian" in the modern sense of the term is a post-constantine construct. But yeah, it is meant to be an analogy. C.f.  the wikipedia article for a start.

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  51.  Dude. You sound like I was 25 years ago. I pray that your life is straightened out by the only One who can.

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  52.  One again might wonder why you'd post a poem by a Christian who is espousing Christian virtue and asking questions to a Christian God.

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  53. If one were indeed to wonder why, one would have a pitifully limited understanding of the nature of art and aesthetics. 

    The answer: because I don't need to agree with an author's cosmology or worldview in order to appreciate his artistry. I don't need to be a Muslim to appreciate or post this poem by Jalaluddin Rumi, a Greek or Roman polytheist to appreciate this hymn to Nemesis by Mesomedes, or an Israeli Jew to enjoy this poem by Zelda

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  54. Just one point: 'ansias' in Spanish is not the same as 'anxiety', but  a thirsty/hungry hankering for something/someone; it implies an intense feel of need or want/wanting. The Spanish for 'anxiety' would be 'ansiedad', not 'ansias'. Examples: 'comer con ansias', 'beber con ansias', besar con ansias', 'Tengo ansias de verte', 'Se echaron a correr con ansias de llegar los primeros', 'Con las ansias de volar le salieron alas'. We also use it in the singular: 'por el ansia de ser famoso', or 'con ansia de aprender', 'por el ansia de demostrar su afecto', etc. On the other hand, the adjective 'ansioso/ansiosa' refers to either the meaning
    'feeling intense desire' ('Estamos ansiosos de veros') or 'feeling anxious' ('Cálmate y no te pongas ansiosa, que todo va a ir bien').
     

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  55. The last sentence is interesting because people control whether or not they eat something based on which neurons fire in their head.

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  56. Lovely translation - I think like every translation of poetry there are several accurate words that just will not fit the meter and you have done a masterful job.

    The poem seems to have enlisted many feelings and remarks that are not written in the poem - curious - maybe the overlay comes because the author was a religious.

    There have been many dark times in my life and after much inner pain I remember and read again the book Dark Night of the Soul translated by E. Allison Peers. The two truths that raise me from my despair are the section where he says you do not have to go to a certain forest with certain trees facing a certain way to pray and celebrate God - this is in 1587 he is suggesting that the formalities of a religious ceremony are not the singular way to commune with this God that no one has ever seen and so we can all project a likeness of God that makes us comfortable.

    And the other is in St. John of the Cross' explanation for hope - among his shared  thoughts he says that hoping for something is memory - that hope, as we have read in the works of other writers - hope is in the unseen - that is the concept that sears me - that my pain is often because I expected or hoped for a certain outcome or behavior which can only be because my thoughts or memory has conjured up my view of what was supposed to happen, my view learned and believed to be 'right' - to have faith in the unknown and unseen - to hope in the unknown and unseen - calls for more trust than I typically can tap into and so all I can do is turn to a force of energy that is greater that I choose to call God.

    Anyone who has attended any 12 step meeting regardless as an alcoholic, drug addict, the child of parents who are or were alcoholics or drug addicts, or the spouse, they know that the interpretation of God by many can beat you up and so many turn to a power that is often not found in the forest with certain trees facing a certain way. Learning to trust again in the unknown is not easy and it helps to dwell on an energy that can move people, mountains, planets and stars.

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  57. I can't comment on the translation, but *can* say that I think this is beautiful. I was surprised to stumble across your site again.


    Best wishes.

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  58. But your problem is that you totally misunderstand Jesus' words about thoughts. They were not an accusation at all. His meaning is clearly that for those who think they are righteous through cleaning the outside of the cup, their thoughts and intentions are known to God, and they are just as guilty. No one is righteous. Righteousness is not humanly possible. And therefore salvation cannot come through any system of law. It comes only through forgiveness and redemption.


    So happy to clear that up for you ;-)

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  59. Putting aside the crude language used to emphasise his argument, AZF has an important point here. Certainly we today can read John as writing gay poetry, but that's because of our readerly habits. We do too live post-Romantic, which means we read the poems as erotic love poems directed at one individual, the object of human desire. All I will say on desire is that John is concerned with a place we can be when we have overcome earthly desire, which is not a denial of that desire or its reality, only that for him true love is with God. It is confronting too to consider that he wrote these poems for the use of female novices, in other words the reader (I in the poem) is a woman seeking our her lover in the night. Furthermore, the lover is the epitome of all love, the God of her pure desire and wonder.

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  60. Have a blessed St. John of the Cross Day! (December 14th, 2012)

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  61. St. Joh of the cross believed in the person and teaching Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God. That was his 'belief system.'

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  62. Breast aesthetics, there is a lot I do not know about. There are those from Turkey you recommend Dr. Ali mezdeği. Do you have that information?
    Meme estetiği

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  63. A.Z.,
    First, thank you for your translation. Someone told me I was going through my own Dark Night of the Soul and I had no idea what she meant until I read this translation.

    I also read through all the comments of all the "Christians" and it was apparent to me that many don't know the first rule of Art, everyone interprets it their own way. Even the writer won't realize sometimes that their subconscious is slipping in ideas and when they read their work years later see far more depth than they originally intended.

    And just a side note, not that you're worried about it just as I am not, but there is only room in heaven for 144,000 people (12,000 from each of the original 12 tribes) and I will never make the cut even if I believed in such an illogical place. What a bore it would be.

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  64. I like this poem, you good translation poem.

    thanks

    http://www.nobledrugsstore.com/

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  65. I am reading Dark Night of the Soul book and decide to google about the poem..while doing that, I stumbled on your website. Thanks for the wonderful poems. Keep doing those beautiful translations. You might also want to try translating Korean poems. They're out of the world.

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  66. thank you for the translation :)

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  67. ArseZZZForeman..Divine Love and Mercy is beyond fragile human comprehension, and for a bigot like Thou, with a wanton attempt to exhibit a closed mind, nothing at all will seem easy to understand to you. So trouble not your empty head, Foreman. This isn't for the likes of you. Stay steeped in your being a glorious Imbecile..(Look up a dictionary, if you have with the meaning of any word).

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  68. Oh ye, of very little faith!

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  69. Spot On! Saint Aqua...4man is a Classic case of being Disillusioned, Negative, Colossally Ignorant, and driven-by-venomous hate! Thats Foreman for you in a nugget! He has probably good reason to be this way(maybe genetically, you know, the Cursed Mark of Cain!), and every reason for us to Give Thanks, for NOT being like Him!

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  70. YYYYYYYYaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnn!!!! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz....now you've overstayed your hospitality here!...Need I say more? Dunce or hippo skinned, here's the Door!

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  71. yea.... doctors of the church often write crap MWAHAHAHAHAHAAH ... GEEK.

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  72. not fair... thats just part of the beauty of god's love...


    X is the perfect example, that can only be made perfect through the selfless sacrifice for truth and our own impossibilities and his triumph (resurrection) over them.


    pax et bonum this xmas feast.

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  73. god encourages suffering, it is what changes us. the more we can endure this life - especially while living well - the more we evolve... that is factual in terms of our own dna mutating throughout our life....

    but you are clearly nursing some sort of anger or bitterness.


    anyone who wants to really think about the mysteries god gives us will be able to see two sides to things.


    your interpretation of god is so angry that it becomes hard to see any real thought... more like an abusive parent telling a child "you do NOT feel that way" instead of doing what thomas aquinas did and see at least two sides to all questions and assertions.


    merry xmas
    (rejoice sunday, "13)

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  74. "and received gifts for men, yea even for thine enemies, that the lord god might dwell among them"
    psalm 18 (just an aria i sing)

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  75. i will have to look at the translation again... not a fan of translating meters into other meters, but you did some serious work on that, so you get props for that.


    i dont know any serious spanish literary fans who dont consider this poem the best one of the spanish opus of poetry.

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  76. Fabulous poem. I wish I could write like you translate!

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  77. Thanks for the translation, I found it by following a link from Wikipedia while researching the 'Soul'

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