"Although it is the night..."


Today we remember St. John of the Cross, mystic and coiner of the phrase "dark night of the soul." His dark nights were physical, psychological, spiritual and emotional...but in them the Light was never overcome by the darkness.

Below is the translation of St. John's song of the soul by Irish poet theologian Seamus Heaney (who I am certain is part of my mother's great reunion group in heaven!)

I know it is long, but if you read it aloud you might hear the cadence and rhythm which soothe just as the Light in the darkness does.

Then at the end is the rhyming couplet by John Betjeman, poet laureate in England many years ago, which I will never forget:

That God was Man in Palestine

And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.

How well I know that fountain, filling, running, although it is the night.

That eternal fountain, hidden away, I know its haven and its secrecy although it is the night.

But not its source because it does not have one, which is all sources’ source and origin although it is the night.

No other thing can be so beautiful, Here the earth and heaven drink their fill although it is the night.

So pellucid it can never be muddied, and I know that all light radiates from it although it is the night.

I know no sounding line can find its bottom, nobody ford or plumb its deepest fathom although it is the night.

And its current so in flood it overspills to water hell and heaven and all peoples although it is the night.

And the current that is generated there, as far as it wills to, it can flow that far although it is the night.

And from these two a third current proceeds which neither of these two, I know, precedes although it is the night.

This eternal fountain hides and splashes within this living bread that is life to us although it is the night.

Hear it calling out to every creature. And they drink these waters, although it is dark here because it is the night.

I am repining for this living fountain. Within this bread of life I see it plain although it is the night.

“This eternal fountain hides and splashes/ within this living bread that is life to us” – reminiscent of the closing couplet from John Betjeman’s poem Christmas, when he speaks of “the most tremendous tale of all”, the incomparable “single Truth”:

That God was Man in Palestine And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.

I am reminded of my friend "Ann" who faces cancer with that Eternal Light "although it is the night!"

Featured Review
Tag Cloud

© 2019 Copyright Owene Courtney | Pilgrims' Journeys

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey Google+ Icon