Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Preparing and Procrastinating

In general I prepare for any journey by procrastinating extensively. I write endless lists about what I should bring and what I should leave behind. Then I have a bout of conscience and think about the weight allowances of British Airways. I cross off half of what was on my list in the first place and begin to pack for the journey. When I get to the end of my list I pack the things I crossed off previously, and a then throw a few more bits in just in case - a posh skirt, a mirror - do I need a travel iron? I curse at check in and moan about the unnnecesarry restrictions. While I am away I use only a quarter of what packed, and in the end unpack at home reflecting about how much I didn't need to bring with me anyway.

For this journey though I have decided to bring with me just one thing. A thought from St John of the Cross. Please excuse me for writing it in Spanish first, it rhymes better.

Noche Obscura

En una noche obscura,
con ansia, en amores inflamada,
¡oh dichosa ventura!,
salí sin ser notada,
estando ya mi casa sosegada.

A oscuras y segura
por la secreta escala, disfrazada,
¡oh dichosa ventura!,
a escuras y en celada,
estando ya mi casa sosegada.

En la noche dichosa,
en secreto, que nadie me veía,
ni yo miraba cosa,
sin otra luz y guía
sino la que en el corazón ardía.

Aquesta me guiaba
más cierto que la luz del mediodía
adonde me esperaba
quien bien yo me sabía
en parte donde nadie parecía.

¡Oh noche que guiaste!
¡Oh noche, amable más que el alborada!
¡Oh noche que juntaste
Amado con amada,
amada en el Amado transformada!

En mi pecho florido,
que entero para él solo se guardaba,
allí quedó dormido,
y yo me regalaba,
y el ventalle de cedros aire daba.

El aire del almena,
cuando ya sus cabellos esparcía,
con su mano serena
en mi cabello hería,
y todos mis sentidos suspendía.

Quedéme y olvidéme,
el rostro recliné sobre el Amado;
cesó todo, y dexéme,
dexando mi cuidado
entre las azucenas olvidado.

On a Dark Night

On a dark night
When love burned bright
Consuming all my care,
While my house slept,
Unseen, I crept
Along the secret stair.

O blessed chance!
No human glance
My secret steps detected.
While my house slept,
I silent crept
In shadow well protected.

That blessed night
Concealed from sight,
Unseeing did I go,
No light to guide
But that inside
My eager heart aglow

A guide as bright
As noonday light,
Which brought me where he dwelt,
Where none but he
Could wait for me
And make his presence felt

Sweeter that night
Than morning light,
For Love did loving meet,
I knew him well,
And we could dwell
In ecstasy complete

I gave him there
My thought, my care,
So did my spirit flower.
Love lay at rest
Upon my breast
That cedar scented hour.

When morning air
Ruffled his hair
From off the ramparts blowing,
I felt his hand,
A quiet command
Tranquility bestowing.

Then face to face
With love’s own grace,
My fears no more parading,
I left them there
With all my care
Among the lilies fading.

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