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San juan de la cruz

San Juan de la Cruz

Songs of the Soul in Rapture

Upon a gloomy night,
With all my cares to loving ardours flushed,
(O venture of delight!)
With nobody in sight
I went abroad when all my house was hushed.

In safety, in disguise,
In darkness up the secret stair I crept,
(O happy enterprise)
Concealed from other eyes
When all my house at length in silence slept.

Upon that lucky night
In secrecy, inscrutable to sight,
I went without discerning
And with no other light
Except for that which in my heart was burning.

It lit and led me through
More certain than the light of noonday clear
To where One waited near
Whose presence well I knew,
There where no other presence might appear.

Oh night that was my guide!
Oh darkness dearer than the morning’s pride,
Oh night that joined the lover
To the beloved bride
Transfiguring them each into the other.

Within my flowering breast
Which only for himself entire I save
He sank into his rest
And all my gifts I gave
Lulled by the airs with which the cedars wave.

Over the ramparts fanned
While the fresh wind was fluttering his tresses,
With his serenest hand
My neck he wounded, and
Suspended every sense with its caresses.

Lost to myself I stayed
My face upon my lover having laid
From all endeavour ceasing:
And all my cares releasing
Threw them amongst the lilies there to fade.

Translated by Roy Campbell


On a dark night,
longing, with love inflamed,
O happy stroke!
I left without being noted,
my house in peace at last.

Safe and in the dark,
disguised and by the secret ladder,
O happy stroke!
In darkness and concealed,
my house in peace at last.

Upon the happy night,
unseen, unheeding aught,
such was my secrecy,
unled by any light
but that glowing within my heart.

This was my guide,
steadier that the noon-day sun,
to where I was awaited
by one I well knew
where nobody appeared.

O guiding night,
night dearer than the dawn,
night that united
lover and beloved,
beloved become her lover's like.

On my flowered breast,
kept entire for him,
there he fell asleep,
and I caressed him,
and the cedars' fan blew.

As I spread out his hair
the air from the turret
stroked me on the neck
with its gentle hand,
and robbed me of my sense.

I lay in self-oblivion,
my head laid on my love;
all ceased and I let go,
leaving my concern
unminded mid the lilies.

Translated by Michael Smith

(1577)

 

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