St. John of the Cross

The Dark Night

Once in the dark of night
when love burned bright with yearning, I arose
(O windfall of delight!)
and how I felt none knows–
dead to the world my house, in deep repose;

in the dark, where all goes right,
thanks to a secret ladder, other clothes
(O windfall of delight!)
in the dark, enwrapped in those–
dead to the world my house, in deep repose.

There in the lucky dark,
none to observe me; darkness far and wide;
no sign for me to mark
no other light, no guide
except for my heart–the fire, the fire inside!

That led me on
true as the very noon is–truer too!–
to where there waited one
I knew–how well I knew!–
in a place where no one was in view.

O dark of night, my guide!
night dearer that anything all your dawns discover!
O night drawing side to side
the loved and the lover–
she that the lover loves, lost in the lover!

Upon my flowering breast,
kept for his pleasure garden, his alone,
the lover was sunk in rest;
I cherished him–my own!–
there in air from plumes of the cedar blown.

In air from the castle wall,
as my hand in his hair moved lovingly at play,
he let cool fingers fall
and the fire there where they lay!
all senses in oblivion drift away.

I stayed, not minding me;
my forehead on the lover I reclined.
Earth ending, I went free,
left all my care behind
among the lilies falling and out of mind.


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