Poetry, VOLUME 3

Poem: “Spiritual Canticle” (Stanzas XIII-XXIII) St. John of the Cross [Vol. 3, #2]

“Spiritual Canticle”
(Stanzas XIII-XXIII)
St. John of the Cross
(1542-1591)


XIII

THE BRIDEGROOM

Return, My Dove!
The wounded hart
Looms on the hill
In the air of your flight and is refreshed.

XIV
My Beloved is the mountains,
The solitary wooded valleys,
The strange islands,
The roaring torrents,
The whisper of the amorous gales;

XV
The tranquil night
At the approaches of the dawn,
The silent music,
The murmuring solitude,
The supper which revives, and enkindles love.

XVI
Catch us the foxes,
For our vineyard has flourished;
While of roses
We make a nosegay,
And let no one appear on the hill.

XVII
O killing north wind, cease!
Come, south wind, that awakens love!
Blow through my garden,
And let its odors flow,
And the Beloved shall feed among the flowers.

XVIII
O nymphs of Judea!
While amid the flowers and the rose-trees
The amber sends forth its perfume,
Tarry in the suburbs,
And touch not our thresholds.

XIX
Hide yourself, O my Beloved!
Turn Your face to the mountains,
Do not speak,
But regard the companions
Of her who is traveling amidst strange islands.

XX
THE BRIDEGROOM

Light-winged birds,
Lions, fawns, bounding does,
Mountains, valleys, strands,
Waters, winds, heat,
And the terrors that keep watch by night;

XXI
By the soft lyres
And the siren strains, I adjure you,
Let your fury cease,
And touch not the wall,
That the bride may sleep in greater security.

XXII
The bride has entered
The pleasant and desirable garden,
And there reposes to her heart’s content;
Her neck reclining
On the sweet arms of the Beloved.

XXIII
Beneath the apple-tree
There were you betrothed;
There I gave you My hand,
And you were redeemed
Where your mother was corrupted.

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


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