IT WAS THE DARKEST NIGHT
Once in the dark of night,
When love’s consuming flames enraptured me,
Oh, fate of sweet delight!
I slipped out silently,
And left my house at peace when none could see.
In darkness and secure,
I climbed my secret stairway to the skies,
Oh, fate joyous and pure!
Unseen and in disguise
I left my house at peace to softly rise.
That night my soul took wing,
When no one saw or knew my hidden flight,
I did not see a thing,
And had no guide or light,
Save that which in my heart was burning bright.
The light that guided me,
More surely than the scorching noonday sun,
Led where impatiently
Waited a loving one
In a small refuge where he stood aline.
Oh, night, most holy guide,
Oh, night, more tender than the dawn’s embrace,
Oh, night, that unified
Two lovers face to face
Transforming Bride to Bridegroom in that place.
Within my flowering breast,
Which whole and safe for Him alone I kept,
He came with me to rest,
And while in quiet he slept
The cedars fanned him as I softly stepped.
The wind from the redoubt
Blew off the stones and scattering his hair
Its hand reached out
Serene and bare
To strike me down and leave me senseless there.
Forgetting all I strayed,
My face upon the Loved One was inclined;
The world stood still, I prayed,
All cares to Him consigned,
And in the field of lilies lost to mind.
Saint John of the Cross
Translation by John A. Crow