SIX RESPONSORIES ON THE 'DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL'

Exhibitions of this set -  A series of liturgical or Biblical references for each painting are available to start the viewer's own "respones" to the series. Exhibited 2019 at NorthART Gallery and then at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland for Quiet Reflection

 

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The Dark Night of the Soul is an eight stanza poem by St John of the Cross (1542-91) - a Carmelite Spanish monk.

 

 

THE PAINTINGS - (each quite large 30in x 40-50in, oil on canvas)

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Into the darkness of the night
With heartache kindled into love,
O blessed chance!
I went out unobserved,
My house being wrapped in sleep.

In the darkness, and yet safe,
By secret ladder and in disguise,
O blessed chance!
In darkness, and in secret, I crept out,
My house being wrapped in sleep.

Stanza 1-2 [Alpha] -
 

Into the happy night
In secret, seen of none,
Nor saw I aught,
Without other light or guide,
Save that which in my heart did burn. 

Stanza 3 [Earth]
 

 

  This fire it was that guided me
More certain than the midday sun,
Where he did wait,
He that I knew was imprinted on my heart,
In place, where none appeared.
Stanza 4 [Fire]    
  O Night, that led me, guiding night,
O night far sweeter than the dawn,
O night that did so then unite
The lover with his Beloved,
Transforming lover in Beloved. 
Stanza 5 [Water]    
 

On my blossoming breast
Alone for him entire was kept,
He fell asleep,
Whilst I caressed,
And fanned him with the cedar fan.

The breeze blew from the battlements
And then it tossed his hair about,
With his fair hand
He touched me lightly on the neck,
So in a swoon were my sense left.

Stanzas 6-7 [Air]    
 

I lay quite still, all memory lost,
I reclined on my Loved One's breast;
I knew no more, in my abandonment
I threw away my care,
And left it all forgotten among the lilies fair.

Transl.ed. Halcyon Backhouse - from the Spanish

Stanza 8 [Omega]
   

 

 

 

     
 
 
 
 
 

 



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