The Complete Poems of San Juan de la Cruz
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.
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Praise and Prizes
“This is a gorgeously presented book with equally stunning verse.”
“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.”
“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.”
“I was so impressed by [The Complete Poems of San Juan de la Cruz] . . . [A] revelatory new translation.”
“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.”
“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.”