Translation of Light / Ruhama Veltfort

About the Author

Lost Child
Brooklyn, 1963
La Sirena
Susan, Number Four

Early Bird Sutra
Why the Boddhisattva Came
   to Battery Street: 7:55 AM

The Lightning-Struck Tower
The Well
Why Monks Are Fat
Meada in Two Worlds

Looking at the Vault
   of Heaven

Translations from the Spanish:
Song of the Lovers
Dark Night: Climbing
   Mount Carmel




Song of the Lovers

Translated from the Spanish: Canciones entre el alma y el Esposo, an excerpt from Cantico ?Espirual by St. John of the Cross.*
Click here to read original Spanish text in a separate window.

The Lover:

Where have you hidden,
Beloved, and left me with a moan?
Leaving me hurting,
You ran like a deer.
I went after You, crying, but You were gone.

Oh, shepherds who roam the fields
From the sheep-cots through the hills
If by any chance you see Him
The One I most desire,
Tell Him that I’m burning, aching, dying.

Seeking my Beloved
I’ll search beyond those mountains and those rivers,
I will not fear the wild beasts
Nor stop to pick the flowers
I’ll go past every fort, cross every border.


Question to the creatures:

Oh, woods and forests,
Planted by the hand of my Beloved —
Oh, grasslands and meadows
Splattered with flowers,
Tell me, has He ever come this way?


The creatures’ response:

Yes, He’s hurried through these groves
Pouring out a thousand miracles,
Just by His glance!
By the grace of His form!
Everything He passed is wrapped in beauty.


The Lover:

Yes! the One who can make me well!
Give yourself up for good, right now, for real!
I don’t want You to send me
One more of Your messengers
Who can’t tell me what I most want to hear!

All the ones who come and go from You,
Recounting all Your million wonders,
Only inflame my agony,
And leave me here to die
Alone, a fool, confused and stumbling.

Oh life! how can you keep on
Living, so far from where He lives?
While ever bringing you near to death
Are the arrows you’ve taken
Conceived in you by your own Beloved!

Why, when You’re the One who’s torn
This heart apart,
Why won’t You mend it?
And why, since You have stolen it
Leave it behind — why won’t You take it with You?

No one but You can finish this,
Put out this blistering passion.
I beg you. Let my eyes have You —
You are their spark and light!
The only reason I’d have eyes at all.
Yes, show me Your presence

Now! Kill me with the vision of Your grace!
Look at this terminal case
Of love, that has no cure
Except to see the beauty of Your face.

O spring of clearest crystal
If only on your silver surfaces
The image of those eyes I crave
Would show itself in form
From the shadow pattern my heart traces!

Beloved, turn those eyes away —
I’m going to fly!


Click here to read original Spanish text in a separate window.

*St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz) was born June 24, 1542 at Fontiveras, Spain, a small village near Avila. He was a Carmelite friar, a mystic and a leading figure in the Catholic Reformation. Along with his friend and mentor, St. Teresa of Avila, he was one of the founders of the Discalced (Reformed) Carmelite order.  He died December 14, 1591.

   © Ruhama Veltfort, 2010  


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