Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cantico espiritual

by St. John of the Cross

¿Adónde te escondiste,
amado, y me dejaste con gemido?
Como el ciervo huiste,
habiéndome herido;
salí tras ti, clamando, y eras ido.

Where have you hidden yourself,
beloved, and left me with groaning?
You have fled like the deer,
having wounded me;
I went out after you, crying out, and you had gone.

Pastores, los que fuerdes
allá, por las majadas, al otero,
si por ventura vierdes
aquél que yo más quiero,
decidle que adolezco, peno y muero.

Shepherds, you who go
up there, through the sheepfolds, to the hill,
if you perhaps see
him whom I love most,
tell him that I grow sick, suffer and die.

Buscando mis amores,
iré por esos montes y riberas;
ni cogeré las flores,
ni temeré las fieras,
y pasaré los fuertes y fronteras.

Seeking my loves,
I will go through these mountains and riverbanks;
I will not collect the flowers,
I will not fear the wild animals,
and I will pass the strong (men) and the frontiers.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

¿Por qué, pues has llagado
aqueste corazón, no le sanaste?
Y pues me le has robado,
¿por qué así le dejaste,
y no tomas el robo que robaste?

Why, since you have wounded
this heart, have you not healed it?
And since you have robbed me of it,
why do you leave me so,
and not take the robbery that you have robbed?

Apaga mis enojos,
pues que ninguno basta a deshacellos,
y véante mis ojos,
pues eres lumbre dellos,
y sólo para ti quiero tenellos.

Quench my angers,
for no one else can extinguish them,
and may my eyes see you,
for you are the light of them,
and I want to keep them only for you.

¡Oh cristalina fuente,
si en esos tus semblantes plateados,
formases de repente
los ojos deseados,
que tengo en mis entrañas dibujados!

O crystal fountain,
if in your silvered surfaces,
you would form suddenly
the desired eyes,
that I have drawn on my heart!

* * *

The translation is my own, with a little help. There were about a half dozen words that don't show up in my little pocket dictionary. Most of it, however, is quite literally translated.

I am very fond of this poem. Of course, the Song of Songs has always been a favorite of mine, but I think St. John brings something of his own to the story. He enhances the search of the bride for her lover with his own experience of searching for Christ.

The poem begins with the bride's search. She looks everywhere, asks everyone for some word of her lover. In the same way, when seeking Christ, it is natural and good for us to look everywhere and ask everyone: Have you seen Him whom my heart loves?

The second part I translated is part of the bride's prayer to her lover. She begins to be impatient for some sign of the lover. Where is he? She begs him to come to her. This is the other part of our search for Christ: asking Him directly.

"Oh cristalina fuente" is an address to someone else again. I have heard the phrase "crystal fountain of faith" as a title for Mary. Perhaps the symbol here is of the soul asking Mary to form Christ again, not in her womb this time, but in the soul. The soul possesses His image, but is still searching for His reality.

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