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Where have you hidden away,
lover, and left me grieving, care on care?
Hurt me and wouldn't stay
but off like a deer from there?
I hurried forth imploring the empty air.

You shepherds, you that rove
over the range where mountains touch the sky,
if you should meet my love
—my one love— tell him why
I'm faint, and in a fever, and may die.

I'll wander high and low
after the one I worship — till he's found
not stop where daisies grow
nor shrink for beasts around;
bow to no bully and obey no bound.

A question to the creatures

Woods and the bush between,
foliage planted by a lover's hand,
meadows of bluegreen
with many a flower japanned,
tell me: has he been lately in your land?

Their reply

Scattering left and right
a thousand favors he went streaming by
these regions, quick as light.
And where it touched, his eye
left a new glory over earth and sky.

The Bride

Left me new suffering too?
Once and for all be really mine, and cure it.
No more that sorry crew
of couriers! — who'd endure it?
I want your living voice, and these obscure it.

All that come and go
stammer your thousand glories — bring instead
grief to me, blow on blow!
I've often read
death itself in that, that that stammer said.

Yet somehow persevere
so long, my life, not living where you live?
Guessing your ruin near
from arrows you receive
only to think of him? To think: to grieve.

Injure this heart? then do
nothing at all, yourself, ever to mend it?
Steal and disdain it too,
by halves a bandit?
Never intend to hold it? nor unhand it?

Some comfort for my sighs!
Help, for no other can in any measure.
Appear, light of my eyes,
sight's only treasure.
I have eyes for you. Or having them's no pleasure.

If only, crystal well,
clear in your silver mirror could arise
suddenly by some spell
the long awaited eyes
traced in my heart of hearts, to tantalize

Those eyes, love! Look away!
They're raising me on air!

The Bridegroom

Swing lower, dove.
The wounded deer, astray,
shows on the hill above,
drawn by your wing he loves the coolness of.

The Bride

My love: the Pyrenees;
leafy ravines, afar, no man possesses;
rivers that roll like seas;
isles no explorer guesses;
the affectionate air all whisper and caresses;

night sunk in a profound
rest, with the stir of dawn about the skies,
music without a sound,
a solitude of cries,
a supper of light hearts and lovelit eyes.

Our bed, a couch of roses
(caverns of lions honeycomb the ground);
our room, where peace reposes
in purple curtains round;
our roof, with a thousand gold escutcheons crowned.

Seeing your sandal-mark
girls whirl to the four winds; their faces shine
stung by a sudden spark,
flushed with the glorious wine.
Their breath a very heaven — the air's divine!

Shown deeper than before
in cellars of my love I drank; from there
went wandering on the moor;
knew nothing, felt no care;
the sheep I tended once are who knows where?

He showed his secret heart;
had certain marvelous matters to confide.
Proposals. For my part
I kept nothing aside,
but made a promise: to become his bride.

Forever at his door
I gave my heart and soul. My fortune too.
I've no flock any more,
no other work in view.
My occupation: love. It's all I do.

If I'm not seen again
in the old places, on the village ground,
say of me: lost to men.
Say I'm adventure-bound
for love's sake. Lost on purpose to be found.

In the cool morning hours
we'll go about for blossoms, sweet to wear;
string emeralds in the flowers
sprung in love's summer air,
entwining this for ribbon — the very hair

curling upon my shoulder.
You loved to see it lifted on the air.
You loved it, fond beholder
caught fascinated there;
caught fast by an eye that wounds you unaware

Your eyes in mine aglow
printed their living image in my own.
That's why you loved me so.
And why I've grown
worthier to return the fervor shown.

You thought me, cheek and brow,
a shade too Moorish, and were slow to praise.
Only look this way now
as once before: your gaze
leaves me with lovelier features where it plays.

Now that the bloom uncloses
catch us the little foxes by the vine,
as we knit cones of roses
sturdy as those of pine.
No trespassing about this hill of mine.

Keep north, you winds of death.
Come, southern wind, for lovers. Come and stir
the garden with your breath.
Shake fragrance on the air.
My love will feed among the lilies there.

The Bridegroom

She enters, the bride! closes
the charming garden that all dreams foretold her;
in comfort she reposes
close to my shoulder.
Arms of the lover that she loves enfold her.

Under the apple tree,
that's where! Rings on our fingers —to foretell
a wedding, yours with me—
broke in a flash the spell
were all that scandal on your mother fell.

Wings flickering here and there,
lon and gamboling antler, shy gazelle,
peak, precipice, and shore,
flame, air, and flooding well,
nighwatchman terror, with no good to tell,

by many a pleasant lyre
and song of sirens I command you, so:
down with that angry choir!
All sweet and low
and let the bride sleep deeper. Off you go!

The Bride

Girls of Jerusalem,
now that the breath of roses more and more
swirls over leaf and stem,
keep further than before.
Live elsewhere. And no darkening our door.

Stay hidden close with me,
darling. Look to the mountain; turn your face.
Finger at lips. But see
what pretty friends embrace
the passer of fabulous islands in her chase.

The Bridegroom

The little pearl-white dove
with frond of olive to the Ark returns.
Wedded, the bird of love
no longer yearns,
settled above still water, among ferns.

Hers were the lonely days;
in loneliest of solitudes her nest.
Her guide on lonely ways
her love, who knew them best,
that arrow from the desert in his breast.

The Bride

Let's live delighted, love!
Gaze eye to eye, see only you in these!
To the hill and heights above!
Cool waters playing! Please
come with me deep and deeper in the trees!

And on to our eyrie then,
that cave in the dizzy cliff — old legend placed it
far beyond wit of men.
Ah but we've traced it,
and wine of the red pomegranate, there we'll taste it.

And there at last you'd show
the very thing my soul was yearning for;
and, dearest life, although
I lost it once, restore
something you gave the other day: once more

the breathing of the air,
the nightingale in her most jubilant vein,
woods and the pleasures there
in night's unruffled reign —
these, and the flame caressing without pain.

With none around to see.
Aminadab's away, that once offended.
Above, the cavalry,
their long siege ended,
sighted the shining waters and descended.


Saint John of the Cross
Translator: Mrs. Bonnie Nims

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enlace Claudio Rodríguez - CANTO DEL DESPERTAR
inglés   English translation (Kieran Kavanaugh & Otilio Rodriguez, OCD)
español Original version