Discover The Profound Wisdom And Love In "Dark Night Of The Soul" By St. John Of The Cross. This Timeless Poem Guides Souls Through The Arduous Path Of Purification And Self-denial, Offering Consolation And Strength On The Journey Towards Unity With God.

Dark Night Of The Soul

Dark Night of the Soul, though austere and exacting in its instructions for holy living, is laced with St. John of the Cross’s charity and love for souls. This timeless poem describes the arid desert of purification and self-denial that each soul must endure to reach unity with God, offering consolation and strength to each of us on our journey through the dark night. 

In a dark night,
With anxious love inflamed,
O, happy lot!
Forth unobserved I went,
My house being now at rest.

In darkness and in safety,
By the secret ladder, disguised,
O, happy lot!
In darkness and concealment,
My house being now at rest,

In that happy night,
In secret, seen of none,
Seeing nought myself,
Without other light or guide
Save that which in my heart was burning.

That light guided me
More surely than the noonday sun
To the place where He was waiting for me,
Whom I knew well, And where none appeared.

O, guiding night;
O, night more lovely than the dawn;
O, night that hast united
The lover with His beloved,
And changed her into her love.

On my flowery bosom,
Kept whole for Him alone,
There He reposed and slept;
And I cherished Him, and the waving
Of the cedars fanned Him.

As His hair floated in the breeze
That from the turret blew,
He struck me on the neck
With His gentle hand,
And all sensation left me.

I continued in oblivion lost,
My head was resting on my love;
Lost to all things and myself,
And, amid the lilies forgotten,
Threw all my cares away.

St. John Of The Cross Summarizes The Poem

The first two stanzas explain the two spiritual purgations of the sensual and spiritual part of man, and the other six the various and admirable effects of the spiritual enlightenment and union of love with God. 

It is right we should understand that they are the words of the soul already in the state of perfection, which is the union of love with God, when it has gone through the straits, tribulations and severities, by means of the spiritual training, of the strait way of everlasting life, by which ordinarily the soul attains to this high and divine union with God. Of it, our Savior says in the Gospel, “How narrow is the gate and strait is the way that leadeth to life, and few there are that find it.” 

This road being so strait, and they who find it being so few, the soul regards it as a great and joyful blessing that it has journeyed on it to the perfection of love, as it sings in the first stanza, very rightly calling the strait road a dark night, as may be seen further on in the words of the stanza. The soul, therefore, rejoicing in that it has traveled on this strait road whereby so great a blessing has come to it, sings. 

This article is taken from a chapter in Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross which is available from TAN Books



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