Carmelite Conversations

How should we approach the poetry of St. John of the Cross?

December 9, 2019

Fraces Harry, OCDS, interviews poet Tim Bete, OCDS, about the poetry of St. John of the Cross. Below are resources and links to things mentioned in the podcast.

Books of poetry by Tim BeteThe Raw Stillness of HeavenWanderings of an Ordinary Pilgrim

Primary source material: The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross (includes The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night, The Spiritual Canticle, The Living Flame of Love, Letters, and The Minor Works) [Revised Edition]. ICS Publications.

The Living Flame of Love by St. John of the Cross

1
O living flame of love
that tenderly wounds my soul
in its deepest center! Since
now you are not oppressive,
now consummate! if it be your will:
tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

2
O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
that tastes of eternal life
and pays every debt!
In killing you changed death to life.

3
O lamps of fire!
in whose splendors
the deep caverns of feeling,
once obscure and blind,
now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
both warmth and light to their Beloved.

4
How gently and lovingly
you wake in my heart,
where in secret you dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory,
how tenderly you swell my heart with love.

Spanish
1
¡Oh llama de amor viva,
que tiernamente hieres
de mi alma en el más profundo centro!
Pues ya no eres esquiva,
acaba ya, si quieres;
¡rompe la tela de este dulce encuentro!

2
¡Oh cauterio suave!
¡Oh regalada llaga!
¡Oh mano blanda! ¡Oh toque delicado,
que a vida eterna sabe,
y toda deuda paga!
Matando, muerte en vida la has trocado.

3
¡Oh lamparas de fuego,
en cuyos resplandores
las profundas cavernas del sentido,
que estaba oscuro y ciego,
con extraños primores
calor y luz dan junto a su Querido!

4
¡Cuán manso y amoroso
recuerdas en mi seno,
donde secretamente solo moras
y en tu aspirar sabroso,
de bien y gloria lleno,
cuán delicadamente me enamoras!

 

The Living Flame of Love in song

In Spanish
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjvx3dx8RNI

Living Flame of Love (Marcus Steer) Malone University Chamber Choir
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqLgA5cX0R0

Love's Living Flame sung by a choir (text by St. John of the Cross)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx6PP954Dh8

John Michael Talbot (song)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFdI6JMQuqg

O Living Flame of Love (song by Karl Kohlhase)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOaE2U0xljQ

 

Fr. Bonaventure Sauer's talk about poetry

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxECpvpN_K6BU3U0cXRucDF2WDQ/view