December 14, 2007

St John of the Cross

St John of the Cross's calendar day is Dec 14.

I've read his story, it's not lovely, he was a Carmelite and imprisoned a lot, but he wrote "Dark Night of the Soul" which for literacy sake, we need to know about. He was a contemporary and friend of Teresa of Avila, and died in 1591. Many people have put parts of his poem to music and you'd think it was just an ordinary male-female love poem. When in reality it was like so many medieval writers wrote, as their love for God.

"Whoever wishes to come after me must die to self and follow me." In the imprisonment of 'death' (and such a long and horrible imprisonment it was) John came into the light.



St John of the Cross after Salvidor Dali by Adrian Moule



Here's some of his long poem, but my favorite music it's put to is by Loreena McKeenitt.

STANZAS OF THE SOUL

1. On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings--oh, happy chance!--
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

2. In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised--oh, happy chance!--
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

3. In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my
heart.

4. This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me--
A place where none appeared.

5. Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

6. Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

7. The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.

8. I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.
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