We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Loreena McKennitt put the lyrics of this poem by the Spanish mystic monk, poet, and theologian John of the Cross (1541-1592) to music. Some of our readers will love what she did with it. The Youtube blurb on McKennitt's piece:
"Dark Night of the Soul," like much of John's poetry, is based on "Song of Songs" from the Biblical Old Testament, and also on much of the romantic poetry and lyrics of Spanish popular balladry of that time, i.e., 16th century. The "secret stair" has less to do with a staircase in a monastery, and more to do with the popular theme of lovers meeting for a late night romantic tryst. In order for this to be possible, the young maiden of the song or poem would have to sneak out of the house, by the "secret stair." John uses this as a metaphor for the soul in prayer who, by means of contemplation, steals away from the world unnoticed, to meet in loving relationship with God. The dark night refers to the soul's search for God, beyond the confines of the human definitions we have put upon God."
John also wrote a treatise on his poem, of the same title. As I understand it, the "dark night" also refers to the period between death and resurrection and union with God, or between death and heaven, and as a metaphor for the condition of being out of touch with God and His love, seeking it in the dark. However, John of the Cross makes a sexy love poem of it too, in the tradition of Song of Songs (Solomon, the old rascal, had 700 wives and 300 concubines to keep him from straying too far from the harem, and out of trouble.)
Here's one translation from: THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD, and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD, revised edition (1991). (Copyright 1991 ICS Publications. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, if this copyright notice is included.)
1. One dark night, fired with love's urgent longings - ah, the sheer grace! - I went out unseen, my house being now all stilled.
2. In darkness, and secure, by the secret ladder, disguised, - ah, the sheer grace! - in darkness and concealment, my house being now all stilled.
3. On that glad night, in secret, for no one saw me, nor did I look at anything, with no other light or guide than the one that burned in my heart.
4. This guided me more surely than the light of noon to where he was awaiting me - him I knew so well - there in a place where no one appeared.
5. O guiding night! O night more lovely than the dawn! O night that has united the Lover with his beloved, transforming the beloved in her Lover.
6. Upon my flowering breast which I kept wholly for him alone, there he lay sleeping, and I caressing him there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.
7. When the breeze blew from the turret, as I parted his hair, it wounded my neck with its gentle hand, suspending all my senses.
8. I abandoned and forgot myself, laying my face on my Beloved; all things ceased; I went out from myself, leaving my cares
It is beautiful, but then one would only expect the best from McKennitt. I don't know why she hasn't really gained as wide a popularity as Enya - they both are singers classified as "world/celtic" genre artists.
My very first exposure to McKinnitt was via a friend in the mid-'80s. He was an Eng Lit Major and came across her recording of "The Stolen Child" by Yeats off her first album "Elemental". I was hooked right from the git go.
McKennitt also has some movie credit chops behind her - "Highlander" ("Bonny Portmore") and "Soldier" ("Dark Night of The Soul") - strangely, the very one mentioned in this post. :>)
Really nice way to start the morning BD. Tre' cool.
Solomon's wives caused him to stray from the Lord and worship foreign gods. God was displeased. On the bright side though, I'll wager he took the trash out and put his dirty socks in the hamper religiously.