Dark Night

  • 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.

ICS edition

The Dark Night of the Soul

Songs of the soul delighted at having reached the high state of perfection, the union with God, by way of spiritual negation.

On a darkened night,
Anxious, by love inflamed,
— O happy chance! —
Unnoticed, I took flight,
My house at last at peace and quiet.

Safe, disguised by the night,
By the secret ladder I took flight,
— O happy chance! —
Cloaked by darkness, I scaled the height,
My house at last at peace and quiet.

On that blessed night,
In secret, and seen by none,
None in sight,
I saw with no other guide or light,
But the one burning in my heart bright.

This guide, this light,
Brighter than the midday sun,
Led me to the waiting One
I knew so well — my delight!
To a place with none in sight.

O night! O guide!
O night more loving than the dawn!
O night that joined
The lover with the Beloved;
Transformed, the lover into the Beloved drawn!

Upon my flowered breast,
For him alone kept fair,
There he slept
There I caressed,
There the cedars gave us air.

I drank the turret’s cool air
Spreading playfully his hair.
And his hand, so serene,
Cut my throat. Drained
Of senses, I dropped unaware.

Lost to myself and yet remaining,
Inclined so only the Beloved I spy.
All has ceased, all rests,
Even my cares, even I;
Lost among the lilies, there I die.

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