Dark Night of the Soul

The Dark Night of the Soul is a poem written by the 16th century Spanish mystic, John of the Cross. Some time after its composition he wrote a treatise in which he expands on each line of the poem. The treatise has become one of the great classics of Christian contemplation

In a tradition going back to The Song of Songs, the poem uses the metaphor of erotic love to describe the progress of the soul on the journey to union with God. The following is a translation of the original Spanish. Loreena McKennitt's version is her own paraphrase, altered in parts for musical reasons.

1. One dark night,
fired with love's urgent longings
- ah, the sheer grace! -
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

2. In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
- ah, the sheer grace! -
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

3. On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.

4. This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
- him I knew so well -
there in a place where no one appeared.

5. O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.

6. Upon my flowering breast
which I kept wholly for him alone,
there he lay sleeping,
and I caressing him
there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.

7. When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck
with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.

8. I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
Forgotten among the lilies


Bev said…
Didn't John Michael Talbot sing this as well? His version was beautiful too.
VenDr said…
You're right. Thanks for reminding me. I have his version on a tape, yes, TAPE somewhere.
Bev said…
Mine's on a tape too unfortunately, and I don't think we have anything to play it on.
Hi Kevin
I stumbled on Loreena Mckennit's Song many years ago whilst in Boulder ( USA). It certainly touched me.
On another subsject what a shame about Christchurch, we always go there. I took a photo of the cathedral just before the the destruction.
If sombody wants a copy of the dark night of the soul I can get them an mp3 version.
Music has such a way of deepening ones emotions especially ones that are spiritual etc.
Some nice photgraphs on this site
take care David