The Complete Poems of San Juan de la Cruz

“This is a gorgeously presented book with equally stunning verse.”—THE MILLIONS
Select Format

In 1578, during months of imprisonment for his reformist beliefs, San Juan de la Cruz composed a series of narrative poems inspired by the Biblical Song of Songs—and, the story goes, a popular love song overheard from his cramped cell—that take God as the beloved. Erotically charged, initially scandalous, his mystical poetry engages with the journey of the soul through the darkest trenches of suffering and despair toward an enlightened spiritual connection with God. For hundreds of years, these poems have resonated deeply with those who search for meaning in the dark, and have influenced generations of poets, artists, and philosophers.

This bilingual edition of the Complete Poems—including “Dark Night” and both the Sanlúcar and Jaén manuscripts of “Spiritual Canticle”—presents an intimate and exceptionally collaborative new translation from María Baranda and Paul Hoover. Baranda, one of the most distinguished Mexican poets of her generation, lends her deft hand with expansive, meditative poetry. Hoover—the accomplished American poet, editor, and translator—offers his dexterity with form and the possibilities of language. The product is uniquely faithful to image and idea, and loyal to the ecstatic lyricism of this canonical text.

A volume that hums with the soul’s longing to find solace, The Complete Poems of San Juan de la Cruz is a collection to be treasured.

Publish Date
8.5 × 5.5 × 0.5 in
7.6 oz

Maria Baranda

Born in 1962, the Mexican poet María Baranda is a winner of major literary awards in Mexico, the Aguascalientes National Poetry Prize and the Efrain Huerta National Poetry Prize, as well as Spain’s Francisco de Quevedo Prize for Ibero-American Poetry.


Paul Hoover

Paul Hoover is the author of the poetry volumes O, and Green: New and Selected Poems; Desolation: Souvenir; Sonnet 56; Edge and Fold; and Poems in Spanish, which was nominated for a Bay Area Book Award.

Praise and Prizes

  • “This is a gorgeously presented book with equally stunning verse.”

    The Millions, “Must-Read Poetry of April 2021”
  • “In poems that remind the reader of John Donne’s fierce, unbridled devotion, mingled with John Keats’s romanticism, people ‘suffer, grieve, and die’ at the various altars of love … The collection invites the acceptance of mystery ushered by the intoxicating work of devotion.”

    Publishers Weekly
  • “In St. John of the Cross’s poetry, the dark night is also a night of profound, even ecstatic beauty … This new edition thrills with the adventure of it all—the soul’s adventure, Juan’s adventure. You can feel Juan’s delight in his newfound freedom, even in the midst of tremendous uncertainty.”

    Amy Frykholm
    The Christian Century
  • “I was so impressed by [The Complete Poems of San Juan de la Cruz] … [A] revelatory new translation.”

    Sharon Mesmer
    Commonweal Magazine
  • “These sixteenth-century poems are gathered together and given a new, contemporary voice through poets María Baranda and Paul Hoover’s co-translation … This is the liberatory power of retranslating classic poets: the opportunity to read differently, on top of or alongside other readings—to provide new shades of meaning, and allow other elements of the poems to shine through.”


    Gabriella Martin
    Action Books blog
  • “One of the leading Mexican poets of the generation born in the 1960s and a powerful presence in all of Latin American poetry, Baranda is best known for her sweeping and incisive long poems. Her cry is resoundingly of sea, sponge, ant, and prayer, as related in rapture. Hoover deftly captures the drama of her cadences in Spanish.”