Monday, 31 March 2008

Dark Night of the Soul....




Upon a darkened night
the flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright
I fled my house while all in quiet rest

Shrouded by the night
and by the secret stair I quickly fled
The veil concealed my eyes
while all within lay quiet as the dead


Chorus
Oh night thou was my guide
oh night more loving than the rising sun
Oh night that joined the lover
to the beloved one
transforming each of them into the other


Upon that misty night
in secrecy, beyond such mortal sight
Without a guide or light
than that which burned so deeply in my heart


That fire t'was led me on
and shone more bright than of the midday sun
To where he waited still
it was a place where no one else could come


Chorus

Within my pounding heart
which kept itself entirely for him
He fell into his sleep
beneath the cedars all my love I gave
And by the fortress walls
the wind would brush his hair against his brow
And with its smoothest hand
caressed my every sense it would allow


Chorus

I lost myself to him
and laid my face upon my lovers breast
And care and grief grew dim
as in the mornings mist became the light
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair


"Dark Night of the Soul," like much of St John of the Cross'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."


St 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.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why have you stopped posting on Damian's blog. They were hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Also.. you know that picture of Don Bosco's vision that you posted a couple of times.. - the boat, the storm, the pope and the church behind him. Where can I get a copy of it ? I have been looking for a depiction of that vision for about 6 years, and that`s the one.

On the side of the angels said...

thanks for the comment - but I'm only ever funny when I'm reacting; and life recently hasn't exactly been a barrel of laughs - I wasn't exactly the Cowardian raconteur yesterday when the bailiff was at the door threatening menaces...and that was one of the beter events of the past week !

Ironically I have actually posted a lengthy irate tirade [at speed so it's hardly readable let alone logical] on Holy Smoke.
Damian's postings recently have been a little disturbing in that they seem both disaffected and cynically distant - the blog has turned into a site for slanging matches over unrelated topics where people argue across each other and I think it's led Damian into a brief period where he couldn't care less - it'll pass of course - who knows? The next post could start everything off again ?
but the latest one over immigration made me see red - in my opinion the influx of Poles and other eastern europeans has been one of the best things to happen to this country over recent years ; so I felt compelled to respond.

The painting is by matthew brooks
and can be found at
http://users.net1plus.com/artcatholic/Bosco.html

Ttony said...

Go easy on St John of the Cross. I was taught to bore for Britain on him as he was my special subject: a lecturer once told me that I had a skewed perspective on him because I was Catholic.

And steer clear of DT.

Anonymous said...

I don`t agree with that observation, that HS has gone awry. It`s raised some really good subjects lately.(what are the ones that bother you..just interested). I think it is one of the few blogs that is not a Catholic clique of like-minded people all agreeing with the blogmaster. It is Catholic, it is attracting comments from all sorts of people, yes... and it does get heated at times.. but that`s the reality of being out there in the market place and I think Damian raises some very important points AND always defends the faith. And the advice to "steer clear" from Mr civil servant is no better than some of those who comment on Holy Smoke. Damian has no control over who comments. I think it`s a great blog.

On the side of the angels said...

Ok :
a] the counterknowledge stuff bores me rigid - not only in the way it's so dismissively written it's also sometimes quite arrogantly ignorant of the way science works; I have a science then logic/epistemology/ethics then theology/psychology background and I can sniff bad arguments with insubstantial evidence a mile off - I've stated it at least a dozen times on Holy Smoke that Damian should be careful relying upon what is the general considered 'truth' to justify his antagonism to certain possibilities or theories - a rational sincere sceptic has to be consistent in suspecting anything - even if it's ostensibly axiomatic or so habitual or popular it has become a global meme. It's dangerous thinking and very prone to fallacy.
b] the Islamic stuff - Sure I suppose I should care more - but I don't - it bores me : I loathe the whole idea of Islam, and rather than whine about the imans and the spread of wahabi fundamentalism I'd do something about it - of course being a peaceful catholic I'd use democratic legal means to prevent this fifth column ; but I never understood why the US didn't just sequestrate all of saudi arabia's trillions of investments in the US and bomb them back into the middle ages before it's too late - they've provenly funded terrorism agains the west ; they fund those who incite revolution and treason in the west - that's an act of war - the US had no qualms stealing Iraq's resources from its rightful owners - why not sort the whole of the western economy out by taking on the Saudis ? I don't care in what way islam has infringed human rights or how local mosques are complaining about victimisation and the local government is bending over backwards to comply with their unjust demands. I want them to go away en masse ; but that aint possible so I'd rather ignore their inane ranting rather than get high blood pressure in frustration over it. Sure they may be my neighbour and I'm commanded to love them - but I have no intention of going out of my way to get into futile fights with them. When Damian posts on Islam
I read it, sigh, and move on....
c] it's not the subject matter on recent posts - it seems to be the lack of thought and concern in their composition - Damian was almost invariably the first with church news, events, episcopal/ecclestone square's comments/faux pas etc -recent posts have sometimes been days if not weeks after the event ; they've been laden with opinion yet lacking in the evidence which is so easily retrievable by the barrel load all around him. I like Holy Smoke a great deal, no matter how many head-to-head disagreements I've had with Damian on certain issues I adore him and what he's about - It's just recently the blog has lost its - how does Bertie Wooster put it ? It's lost its Ooh Jah cum Spiff...
I've no doubt it will return , and when it does many of those participants who used to be on there all the hours of the day will be back with a vengeance - me included - but it is somewhat difficult to discuss a topic when there is nothing to go on and the only threaders are there to spew ill-considered banalities or vituperative put-downs. It's just a minor blip in its history - I'm certain that behind the scenes Damian must have many other concerns taking up most of his valuable time which has regrettably led him to just attempt to keep the blog ticking over - I still go there normally daily ; but whereas previously I would feel compelled to comment or respond - recently that spark has not been there...
That's all I'm saying really...
The blog serves a great purpose and it's always going to be one of my main ports of call - I'm just biding my time until it gets a little more interesting again...

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Ttony said...

Your Brazilian fan is a TV salesman. Never mind!

Anonymous said...

Yes, steer clear of Damian Thompson. He doesn't believe in God and sees Catholicism as a niche, cultural force, a form of identity and social climbing, and source of income. His commentators are usually as warped as he is. He is dangerous.

nick said...

I have only met Damian Thompson once and experienced a real sense of the presence of evil.

On the side of the angels said...

Oh be nice !
Damo aint exactly everyone's cup of tea I'll concur; and no I haven't met him but he's never been anything but an all-round fluffbundle and orthodox catholic in every interaction we've had - admittedly I've heard his views on miracles are a little suspect but I've never heard anything from him to confirm it - He appears to care very much about his faith and obviously loves very many of his associates with a sincerity you can't fake.
I'm sure there are more than a few people out there who would think St Francis de Sales was some seedy pervert because he had a squint and overtly spoke of passionately loving Christ. Ditto many too quick to judge would think theresa of avila was a sour-faced old bat or francis of assissi a simple-minded schizophrenic !!!
Some people looking at a photo of chesterton might presume he was a hang 'em, flog 'em jingoistic tory colonel blimp figure ; I've read Polly Toynbee and Germaine Greer denounce Mother Theresa as one of the most villainous evil women of the twentieth century....
I may be utterly wrong, but I kinda love Damian Thompson for all his cooky quirks - if I'm wrong; who loses ? Thinking the best of someone may make them act a little better ? didn't Saint Paul say love was always willing to excuse ?

Anonymous said...

Paul, you are a born innocent. Beware of the wolves.

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