The Poems of St. John of the Cross

The Poems of St. John of the Cross

by John Nims
     
 

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…  See more details below

Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
St. John of the Cross, a 16th-century mystic, wrote a small body of poems, many of them while he was imprisoned for his involvement in St. Teresa of Avila's monastic reform movement. A friendly jailer gave him pen and paper, and with these he composed some of the most ecstatically spiritual poems of the Christian tradition. St. John's central theme is union, though he wrote from utter solitude. His expressions of spiritual union with God are surprisingly sexual; it's often difficult not to interpret them as secular love poems. There are many excellent translations available that endeavor to capture the intensity and passion of the original. Krabbenhoft's translations are flat and literal in comparison with those of Willis Barnstone (1968) and John Frederick Nims (1979). Nims, for example, translates the last line of "Canciones Dei" as "how delicately I'm caught afire with love!" while Krabbenhoft renders it "how soothingly do you woo me!" Spanish texts are included, and Ferris Cook's tender illustrations are based on 16th-century Spanish paintings.--Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226401089
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
10/01/1979
Series:
Midway Reprint Ser.
Edition description:
3d ed., Phoenix ed
Pages:
151

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