The Poems of St. John of the Cross: (Dual English/Spanish)

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9780151003273: The Poems of St. John of the Cross: (Dual English/Spanish)

St. John of the Cross was born Juan de Yepes in 1542, in a small village in Spain. In his youth he met the Carmelite nun Teresa of Avila, and joined her monastic reform movement. He dedicated the rest of his life to founding and administering monasteries and to works of charity. His writing, which began in prison when he was held captive by monks hostile to the reform movement, earned him the reputation as the greatest poet in the Christian mystical tradition, and led to his canonization. In poems of astonishing clarity he evokes a vision of a world filled with beauty, radiant with the love of God, ecstatic in its purity. St. John is revered by readers of spirituality, for his words-which compare with the Psalms of David and the works of the Sufi poet Rumi-resonate with inspiration and rich imagery. This edition offers a dual Spanish/English text, and is accompanied by black-and-white illustrations based on famous Spanish paintings of the Renaissance.

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Review:

The Poems of St. John of the Cross, translated by Ken Krabbenhoft, burn with the ecstatic fury of the Psalms and sail in the radiant peace of the poet Rumi.

St. John of the Cross was born in Spain in 1542 and was imprisoned in 1577 for his devotion to the teachings of St. Teresa of Avila. During his imprisonment, he wrote most of the poems that have earned him the reputation as the greatest poet of the Christian mystical tradition. The poems, presented here in a beautifully printed, lightly illustrated Spanish/English edition, often blur the line between romantic and religious love, in the tradition of Song of Songs. "On a Dark Night," for example, begins with a lover whose gender is not identified, stealing out of a house, down a secret ladder, following "my only light and guide / the light that burned in my heart," to find "the one I knew would come, / where surely no one would find us." The poem ends with a breathtaking image of spiritual and sensual contentment: "On the ramparts / while I sat ruffling his hair / the air struck my neck / with its gentle hand, / leaving my senses suspended. / I stayed; I surrendered, / resting my face on my Beloved. / Nothing mattered. / I left my cares / forgotten among the lilies." These are poems to read aloud to a lover, poems to read silently before God, poems that quiver before the world's beauty and thankfully seek to describe something beyond it--a God whose undeniable intimacy with humanity always edges toward the ineffable. --Michael Joseph Gross

From the Back Cover:

San Juan de la Cruz, the great sixteenth-century Spanish mystic, is regarded by many as Spain's finest poet. Passionate, ecstatic, and spiritual, his poems are a blend of exquisite lyricism and profound mystical thought. In The Poems of St. John of the Cross, John Frederick Nims presents his superlative translation of the complete poems, re-creating the lyrical fervor of St. John's art.

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