Cover image for The poems of St. John of the Cross
The poems of St. John of the Cross
John of the Cross, Saint, 1542-1591.
Uniform Title:
Poems. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt Brace, [1999]

Physical Description:
vi, 85 unnumbered pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PQ6400.J8 A253 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



St. John of the Cross was born Juan de Yepes in 1542, in a small village in Spain. In his youth he met the Carmelite nun Teresa of Avila, and joined her monastic reform movement. He dedicated the rest of his life to founding and administering monasteries and to works of charity. His writing, which began in prison when he was held captive by monks hostile to the reform movement, earned him the reputation as the greatest poet in the Christian mystical tradition, and led to his canonization. In poems of astonishing clarity he evokes a vision of a world filled with beauty, radiant with the love of God, ecstatic in its purity. St. John is revered by readers of spirituality, for his words-which compare with the Psalms of David and the works of the Sufi poet Rumi-resonate with inspiration and rich imagery. This edition offers a dual Spanish/English text, and is accompanied by black-and-white illustrations based on famous Spanish paintings of the Renaissance.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This dual-language edition of the poems of the great sixteenth-century Spanish mystic allows even those who barely have any Spanish to better appreciate Krabbenhoft's new translations. Those are in clear, uncomplicated English that employs no theological jargon but speaks in hearthside and pastoral terms similar to those of the Psalms of David--a simplicity of diction that is readily apparent in the Spanish. If Krabbenhoft loses the rhymes of the Spanish, he does not sacrifice the rhythms, and the rapturous God-intoxication of John proves as enchanting and awe-inspiring in English as the mystical verses of the great English Christian visionary poets Thomas Traherne and Christopher Smart. In particular, a finer meditation on the Trinity than the long "In the beginning was the Word" ("En el principio moraba") is impossible to imagine. Ferris Cook's illustrations, based on imagery in Renaissance Spanish paintings, complete a most lovely book. --Ray Olson

Library Journal Review

St. John of the Cross, a 16th-century mystic, wrote a small body of poems, many of them while he was imprisoned for his involvement in St. Teresa of Avila's monastic reform movement. A friendly jailer gave him pen and paper, and with these he composed some of the most ecstatically spiritual poems of the Christian tradition. St. John's central theme is union, though he wrote from utter solitude. His expressions of spiritual union with God are surprisingly sexual; it's often difficult not to interpret them as secular love poems. There are many excellent translations available that endeavor to capture the intensity and passion of the original. Krabbenhoft's translations are flat and literal in comparison with those of Willis Barnstone (1968) and John Frederick Nims (1979). Nims, for example, translates the last line of "Canciones Dei" as "how delicately I'm caught afire with love!" while Krabbenhoft renders it "how soothingly do you woo me!" Spanish texts are included, and Ferris Cook's tender illustrations are based on 16th-century Spanish paintings.ÄJudy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.