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Saturday, May 30, 2015

La Noche Oscura, The Dark Night Of My Soul

La Noche Oscura Del Alma, The Dark Night Of My Soul

In the Dark Night of my Soul,
With passion burning; oh, lucky me - 
I went away in secret and unseen, 
My being joyful and at ease 

In the darkness and invisible 
I climbed the secret ladder up; oh lucky me - 
In darkness, in disguise, 
My being joyful and at ease. 

The night of joy, 
In secret, unobserved, and shouldn't be; 
Without light or guidance 
But the one inside 

The midnight sun lead me, 
Sun brighter than at noon
To where He, I knew; I knew it well, 
Awaited me, and nobody else. 

The night lead me, 
More perfect than the dawn
The night of love: 
We merged, we mixed, one in another

My yearning breast, my breath 
Was only for Him and Him alone
He slept, I touched Him,  
And the cedars with breeze us cuddled..

His breath - my healing breeze, 
His pure golden hair, 
Sweet wounding touch, both gentle and exciting - 
And, senseless, I was lost, 

And consciousness dissolved, 
His cheek by mine,
And all the world abandoned,   
I've lost my troubles there, I've tossed them into lilies... 


Dark Night of The Soul - Interpretation

My (sudden) understanding was that this little, very simple and very complex at the same time, poem is the concept, symbol and the celebration of the organic unity of the Love earthly, human, sexual (in this particular case, and this is explicitly and deliberately clear from the text, the physical love of one, relatively young, with his intensity and abandon, man for another) and the Love spiritual, religious, heavenly, eternal, pure and just as intense: the love for and of God, in Christianity, for Christ
This poem affirms the notion of the deification of the Beloved by the Lover (in old, traditional and somewhat misleading terms) and the attempt at transformation in closeness and merger with the Beloved - the God
The love of ancient Hebrews for their God was just as intense, overwhelming and almost physical, single minded and exclusive in their devotion to their "one and only" Beloved-God, probably a defense and a substitute for the earthly and real Beloved(s). 
The love of deeply religious and spiritual Christians for their Beloved, Christ, has the same intense and mixed physical-heavenly quality. 
The physical, earthly, sexual component is the emotional font and engine which feeds and embodies the pure, spiritual, religious love. 
This poem discovers that there is no contradiction between them, that it is rather natural and organic continuum than artificial and cruel dichotomy. 
What is the better case, notion and the example for the wise acceptance of gay sexuality and lifestyles on the part of the Christian Churches, than this little poem, which breathes with life and truth still, half a millennium after it was created? 
Judaism, this practical and living sociology, so to speak, did accept them, quietly and without much hullabaloo. 
Furthermore, for anyone, trying to understand the origins of Christianity, it should be undeniable, that historically, spiritually, conceptually, philosophically, aesthetically, it is rooted in a preceding homoerotic (and much more than simply "homoerotic") cult of Antinous based on the undoubtedly real historical figure. This proto-Christian religion was appropriated, (perverted?), broadened and transformed by fusion with Judaism and aesthetically-spiritually framed by the Hellenistic mythologists ("myth-maker, myth-maker, make me a myth!"). For Alexandrian Jews, the compilers of Septuagint, and by extension, Early Christians, the idea of "gay God" was blasphemous and absolutely unacceptable, just like the idea of living Emperor-God. This idea is still treated in the same terms by many contemporary religious thinkers and figures. 
Christianity, in a way, was and remains the Judaeo-Hellenistic religion of "common sense" (inspired by "Common Aphrodite", as Socrates would have put it) and intense, "gut-reaction" protest against the homoerotic cults and "gay Gods" and by the nature of this relation is rooted in them. 
Mithraic cults is another example of the rejected early pre-Christian religious movements.
The Greek mythologists, who had no problems with these issues in their Olympic Pantheon, readily obliged and produced their magnum opus, a new religious paradigm, better suited for their historical time and place, under the restrictive (Early Rabbinical Judaism) and fanatical influence of their Hebrew literary-religious brethren.
The true Beloved is God, and the true God is The Beloved. Now it remains to determine what makes them "true", how to separate it from "untrue" and how to find this "truth". I think all of us, of all orientations and religious and non-religious persuasions are engaged in this life-long, mysterious and not always meaningful search. 
Keep searching, and do not talk about it with your psychiatrist: it will destroy everything. 
Place a smiley here. 


dark night of the soul poem | dark night of the soul poem text | analysis of noche oscura

Dark Night Of The Soul

The Dark Night of the Soul

St John Of the Cross

On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!–
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.
In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy chance!–
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.
In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my
This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me–
A place where none appeared.
Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!
Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.
The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.
I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.

Commentary on Dark Night of the Soul
by St. John of the Cross

“He soars on the wings of Divine love . . .”
“It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that the verse and prose works combined of St. John of the Cross form at once the most grandiose and the most melodious spiritual canticle to which any one man has ever given utterance.
The most sublime of all the Spanish mystics, he soars aloft on the wings of Divine love to heights known to hardly any of them. . . . True to the character of his thought, his style is always forceful and energetic, even to a fault.
When we study his treatises–principally that great composite work known as the Ascent of Mount Carmel and the Dark Night–we have the impression of a mastermind that has scaled the heights of mystical science; and from their summit looks down upon and dominates the plain below and the paths leading upward. . . . Nowhere else, again, is he quite so appealingly human; for, though he is human even in his loftiest and sublimest passages, his intermingling of philosophy with mystical theology; makes him seem particularly so. These treatises are a wonderful illustration of the theological truth that graced far from destroying nature, ennobles and dignifies it, and of the agreement always found between the natural and the supernatural–between the principles of sound reason and the sublimest manifestations of Divine grace.”
Translated and edited,
from the critical edition of

La noche oscura, por San Juan de la Cruz


This is a classic poem, originally written in Spanish by Saint John of the Cross (the English translation is below but it is not as pretty).  The dark night of the soul refers to a period of spiritual crisis, where the believer finds it difficult to believe.  In the poem, the narrator resolves the crisis and finds himself at peace once more in the garden of his beliefs.

La noche oscura

En una noche oscura,
con ansias en amores inflamada,
(¡oh dichosa ventura!)
salí sin ser notada,
estando ya mi casa sosegada.
A oscuras y segura,
por la secreta escala disfrazada,
(¡oh dichosa ventura!)
a oscuras y en celada,
estando ya mi casa sosegada.
En la noche dichosa,
en secreto, que nadie me veía,
ni yo miraba cosa,
sin otra luz ni guía
sino la que en el corazón ardía.
Aquésta me guïaba
más cierta que la luz del mediodía,
adonde me esperaba
quien yo bien me sabía,
en parte donde nadie parecía.
¡Oh noche que me guiaste!,
¡oh noche amable más que el alborada!,
¡oh noche que juntaste
amado con amada,
amada en el amado transformada!
En mi pecho florido,
que entero para él solo se guardaba,
allí quedó dormido,
y yo le regalaba,
y el ventalle de cedros aire daba.
El aire de la almena,
cuando yo sus cabellos esparcía,
con su mano serena
en mi cuello hería,
y todos mis sentidos suspendía.
Quedéme y olvidéme,
el rostro recliné sobre el amado,
cesó todo, y dejéme,
dejando mi cuidado
entre las azucenas olvidado.


Dark Night of the Soul

Upon a darkened night
The flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright
I fled my house while all in quiet rest
Shrouded by the night
And by the secret stair I quickly fled
The veil concealed my eyes
While all within lay quiet as the dead.
O, night thou was my guide!
O, night more loving than the rising sun!
O, night that joined the Lover to the beloved one!
Transforming each of them into the other.
Upon that misty night
In secrecy beyond such mortal sight
Without a guide or light
Than that which burned as deeply in my heart.
That fire ’twas led me on
And shone more bright than of the midday sun
To where He waited still
It was a place where no one else could come.
Within my pounding heart
Which kept itself entirely for Him
He fell into His sleep
beneath the cedars all my love I gave.
From o’er the fortress walls
The wind would brush His hair against His brow
And with its smoother hand
caressed my every sense it would allow.
I lost my self to Him
And laid my face upon my Lover’s breast
And care and grief grew dim
As in the morning’s mist became the light.
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair.