A youthful shepherd, wandering and feeling
far from his heart’s content, goes sad and lonely,
his thoughts on one he loves, and for her only
his breast pierced by love’s wound, deep and unhealing.

He weeps-not for the blows that love keeps dealing”
no, he has no regrets for the affliction
that tears him so: he weeps for his eviction
from her remembrance. How his heart is reeling

to know that she forgets him who is kneeling
before her! Just to think she has refused him
sends him afar, where strangers have abused him,
his breast pierced by love’s wound, deep and unhealing.

He cries, “Unlucky she, forever steeling
herself against my love, she who retires
when I approach, frustrating my desires,
my breast pierced by love’s wound, deep and unhealing!”

See him there where, at last, himself revealing
on a tree’s branches, by fair arms extended,
he clings aloft, although his life has ended,
his breast pierced by love’s wound, deep and unhealing.

Articles by St. John of the Cross, translated by Rhina P. Espaillat

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