Friday, August 31, 2007

From Song #19

He turns their difference to naught
Then both into Himself, so sweetly
And with a flame so fine and fragrant
Which now I feel in me completely
Reduce my being, till no vagrant
Vestige of my own self stay.
And wholly I am burned away.

-San Juan de la Cruz-


Jeff Moss said...

My knowledge of poetry is sadly quite limited, but I think John of the Cross is my favorite poet.

In my opinion, his most beautiful work is "Cantar del alma que se huelga de conoscer a Dios por fe" (Song of the soul that rejoices in knowing God by faith). Here is a link to it in the original Spanish, and a pretty good English translation is here...although San Juan with his exquisite ear for Spanish lyricism also happens to be one of the most untranslatable poets I know.

Thomas Banks said...

I don't speak Spanish, but I do have an interlinear translation of his verse and my brother (who does speak a bit) took a look at it and said the rendition which I have here posted is some distance from literality.

That said, the man was a mystic and mysticism has a history of not translating well.

Still, I agree with you, the man appears to have had at the very least a masterful sense of musicality, which I tend to value above all other qualities in a poet; which is the reason I don't much care for John Donne, but that's another post by itself.