Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

How well I know the spring that feeds the torrent,
though night has fallen!

The spring runs from forever, and past finding;
how well I know it as it flows down winding,
though night has fallen.

Since it has none, I know not where its source is,
but know that there all things begin their courses,
though night has fallen.

I know nowhere exists so fair a treasure,
yet heaven and earth there slake their thirst with pleasure,
though night has fallen.

So clear it shines that nothing foul can scum it,
and every light, I know, emanates from it,
though night has fallen.

So full its current, and so strongly churning,
that heaven rains on hell and on the burning,
though night has fallen.

The stream that flows, I know, from that first welling
equals the source in might beyond all telling,
though night has fallen.

The stream that from these two flows forth together
keeps equal pace, as bonded by a tether,
though night has fallen.

For that eternal spring is safely hidden
in this, life’s bread, the feast to which we’re bidden,
though night has fallen.

They’re called to this, all creatures here abiding,
to come and drink their fill, although in hiding,
since night has fallen.

That living fountain that I most desire
I find in this, the bread of life, entire,
though night has fallen.

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

Dear Reader,

We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.

Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on

Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.

Will you give today?

Make My Gift