translated from a manuscript found in an abandoned 17th century Spanish convent
Dusk-veiled and cloistered here I turn my back
upon a cruel world. Deluding love
cast out, I follow Saviourís track,
Godís universe and Jordanís holy dove.
For midnight trysts I keep the sacred Mass
and morningís light is rosaryís yew beads.
Let others lust and fall down sinís crevasse
for only Christ now satisfies my needs.
My spouse, my body is for you alone,
your Grace caresses my young swelling breasts,
your hand in mine will lead me to your throne,
without your golden touch my heart protests.
And so each night I bare my soul for you,
the one and only whoíll be always true.
He must be cruel to be kind and so
I wear a cross of thorns upon my breast;
beneath this habit spines claw deep and slow
into my flesh for I have still transgressed.
And Saviourís blood stains penitential skin
and shows redeeming path to his pure heart;
the iron sting recalls those nails within,
for Christís sake let me ever bleed and smart.
Itís virginís blood and shed for you alone,
this gift is all my heart for you to keep.
Come, ravish me and hear my burning moan,
then soothe me still with your eternal sleep.
No joy without loveís lambent flame that heals,
no rest without the torment that reveals.
To suffer is to learn and then become
transformed into a rarer soul: rough stone
thatís mined from darkest caves will soon succumb
to fire and be refined in gold-wrought throne.
For this I fast and mortify thinned flesh
until sharp bones stick through my pallid skin;
no food can please, no water can refresh
my raging hunger and my thirst within.
My beauty cannot last, let it die here:
eyesí snare, lipsí rose, earsí pearls, all these must fade
in dust. Then let young body now appear
as spectre in dusk graveyardís broken shade.
For I am not afraid, except of lies
which numb my sense and fill my heart with cries.
My Lord, I bend myself before your light:
a wretched sinner, take me as I am
and hold me fast, possess my heart tonight
entirely: love supreme, destroy lifeís sham.
I shall perfume this penanced flesh for you,
for you alone recite soft psalms of praise.
Exclude this cloak, my ciliac undo,
take off the darkening veil, unloose my stays
and feel this bodyís heart, caress this breast
of favour, take me in entirety;
for solely then shall I be truly blessed,
forget this earth and manís impiety.
Look, here I lie, my lips apart for you:
come, taste their dew and be for ever true.
Strange how despite of sin my beauty grows,
no mortifying can appease its bloom.
Chastisement, penance and the barbed flailís blows
cannot prevent Superiorís languid room.
Is this a test to prick my martyrís blood?
Can she examine my anatomy
until chaste body feels a yearning flood?
With timid downcast eyes I can but plea.
My virgin soul weeps for another sphere
of ecstasy in one soulís craving look;
possession of my wounded heart pains here
deep, deep inside the woman you forsook.
Cast on a ledge above profound abyss
I ache for ultimate, consuming bliss.
You seal my liquid eyes with fervid lips;
no more want I in this ecstatic trance:
my body suppliant to your dartsí tips,
my skin aflame in raptureís cosmic dance.
Now take me: this oblivious self is yours,
all yours my one, sublime eternal love.
I can no more but lie on deathís strange shores
upon your cheek and die again above.
Feed on my breasts for they are heavenís food,
gaze deep into my eyes, for canít you see
between my curves thereís nothing can delude
and all I do is pray to you: "love me."
Again, a thousand-fold, please let me die
within your heart; cease my perennial cry.
I am your Lordís handmaiden, your delight,
my bodyís all for you, so set it free:
my eyes to see the glory of your sight,
my nose to scent perfume of sanctity,
my lips to kiss your words of sacred love,
my breasts to feed you with delicious praise,
my ears to hear your angel choirs above,
my heart to give to you to keep always,
my legs to twine with yours like milk-weed shoots,
my thighs to part a way for godly strength,
my secret grove to squeeze delicious fruits,
my womb to bear your adorationís length.
What other lover could I want or lack?
Before your Majesty they are just slack.
© Francis Pettitt
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