a v a l o n (II)

a v a l o n (II)
the secret scripture
Image by Jose Luis Mieza Photography
Listen The Dark Night Of The Soul – Loreena McKennitt

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

The phrase "dark night of the soul" emerged from the writings of Saint John of the Cross, a Carmelite priest in the 16th century. Dark Night of the Soul, the name of a poem and its theological commentary, are among the Carmelite priest’s most well-known writings. The texts tell of the saint’s mystical development and the stages he is subjected to on his journey towards union with God. The Dark Night of the Soul is divided into two books that reflect the two phases of the dark night. The first is a purification of the senses. The second and more intense of the two stages is that of the spirit, which is the less common of the two. Dark Night of the Soul further describes the ten steps on the ladder of mystical love, previously described by Saint Thomas Aquinas and in part by Aristotle, referred to by medieval Catholic theologians as the Philosopher, for he established justification for the existence of one true God and thus refuted his master, Plato. The text was written while John of the Cross was imprisoned by his Carmelite brothers, who opposed his reformations to the Order. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, a 19th-century French Carmelite, underwent similar experience. Centering on doubts about the afterlife, she reportedly told her fellow nuns, "If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into."

Loreena writes in the CD booklet about this song:

May, 1993 – Stratford … have been reading through the poetry of 15th century Spain, and I find myself drawn to one by the mystic writer and visionary St. John of the Cross; the untitled work is an exquisite, richly metaphoric love poem between himself and his god. It could pass as a love poem between any two at any time … His approach seems more akin to early Islamic or Judaic works in its more direct route to communication to his god … I have gone over three different translations of the poem, and am struck by how much a translation can alter our interpretation. Am reminded that most holy scriptures come to us in translation, resulting in a diversity of views.

Music by Loreena McKennitt
Lyrics by St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz), arr. and adapted by Loreena McKennitt

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