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THE POEMS OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS
The Poems of Saint John of the Cross (a bilingual edition). English versions and introduction by Willis Barnstone. Published by Indiana University Press in 1968.
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English Versions and Introduction by Willis Barnstone. Although not many of his poems survive, the sixteenth century mystic, Saint John of the Cross, is regarded by many critics as the finest poet in the Spanish language. Most of his poems were written during a period of nine months when he was imprisoned in the dungeon of a small Carmelite monastery in Toledo, and their recurrent motifs are both metaphysical and deeply personal.

Saint John's poetry of fire and love describes the soul's voyage through dark night to arrive at final illumination in an ecstatic union with Absolute Being. The allegory the poet uses is that of earthly sensual love, and the poems are strikingly effective on the immediate level of personal experience, apart from their theological meanings.

This modern bilingual edition of Saint John's poems makes them available in modern English for the first time. The new translations by poet Willis Barnstone capture the almost colloquial freshness of popular song found in the originals, in a language which is at once modern, simple, and reminiscent of the resonant music of the Spanish.

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