Without a Place and With a Place

by John of the Cross

English version by Willis Barnstone
Original Language Spanish

Without a place and with a place
to rest -- living darkly with no ray
of light -- I burn my self away.

My soul -- no longer bound -- is free
from the creations of the world;
above itself it rises hurled
into a life of ecstasy,
leaning only on God. The world
will therefore clarify at last
what I esteem of highest grace:
my soul revealing it can rest
without a place and with a place.

Although I suffer a dark night
in mortal life, I also know
my agony is slight, for though
I am in darkness without light,
a clear heavenly life I know;
for love gives power to my life,
however black and blind my day,
to yield my soul, and free of strife
to rest -- living darkly with no ray.

Love can perform a wondrous labor
which I have learned internally,
and all the good or bad in me
takes on a penetrating savor,
changing my soul so it can be
consumed in a delicious flame.
I feel it in me as a ray;
and quickly killing every trace
of light -- I burn my self away.

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

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