Dark Night of the Soul

Songs of the Soul

On a dark night,
Inflamed by love-longing-
O exquisite risk!
Undetected I slipped away.
My house, at last, grown still.

Secure in the darkness,
I climbed the secret ladder in disguise-
O exquisite risk!
Concealed by the darkness.
My house, at last, grown still.

That sweet night: a secret.
Nobody saw me;
I did not see a thing.
No other light, no other guide
Than the one burning in my heart.

This light led the way
More clearly than the risen sun
To where he was waiting for me
-The one I knew so intimately-
In a place where no one could find us.

O night, that guided me!
O night, sweeter than sunrise!
O night, that joined lover with Beloved!
Lover transformed in Beloved!

Upon my blossoming breast,
Which I cultivated just for him,
He drifted into sleep,
And while I caressed him,
A cedar breeze touched the air.

Wind blew down from the tower,
Parting the locks of his hair.
With his gentle hand
He wounded my neck
And all my senses were suspended.

I lost myself. Forgot myself.
I lay my face against the Beloved’s face.
Everything fell away and I left myself behind,
Abandoning my cares
Among the lilies, forgotten.

John of the Cross, translated by Mirabai Starr

Related: Love’s Ordeal: The Dark Night of the Soul
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