Full of Hope I Climbed the Day

by John of the Cross

English version by Willis Barnstone
Original Language Spanish

Full of hope I climbed the day
while hunting the game of love,
and soared so high, high above
that I at last caught my prey.

In order to seize the game
-- the divine love in the sky --
I had to fly so high, high
I floated unseen and became
lost in that dangerous day;
and so my flight fell short of
height -- yet so high was my love
that I at last caught my prey.

Dazzled and stunned by light
as I rose nearer the sun,
my greatest conquest was won
in the very black of night.
Yet since love opened my way
I leapt dark, blindly above
and was so high, near my love,
that at last I caught my prey.

In this most exalted quest
the higher I began to soar
the lower I felt -- more sore
and broken and depressed.
I said: None can seize the prey!
and groveled so low, so low
that high, higher did I go,
and at last I caught my prey.

By strange reckoning I saw
a thousand flights in one flight;
for hope of heavenly light
is achieved by hoping now.
I hoped only for this way
and was right to wait for love,
and climbed so high, high above
that at last I caught my prey.

-- from To Touch the Sky: Poems of Mystical, Spiritual & Metaphysical Light, Translated by Willis Barnstone

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Full of Hope I