Teresa’s Poetry

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, a woman who displayed a remarkable independence of spirit in 16th Century Spain, during a time when the Church was not particularly tolerant of independence of thought or spirit and when no one was tolerant of such a characteristic in a woman. She bent Church rules, she barely survived the Spanish Inquisition, she annoyed many with her reform of both the male and female Carmelite orders, and she did it all while suffering debilitating illness through most of her life – living with almost constant pain. At the same time, she authored a body of written work that many would call the cornerstone of Christian mysticism, and she is, even today, one of the most widely read writers in the Spanish language.

Among other things, Teresa was a poet. She wrote poems not for their own sake, but rather (in the words of one of her biographers) “as a release for the mystical fire she could no longer contain in her heart.

I once before shared one of her poems (here). In honor of her feast, here is another. It is titled On Those Words “Dilectus Meus Mihi”.

Myself surrendered and given,
The exchange is this:
My Beloved is for me,
And I am for my Beloved.

When the Gentle hunter
Wounded and subdued me,
In love’s arms,
My soul fallen;
New life receiving,
Thus did I exchange
My Beloved is for me,
And I am for my Beloved.

The arrow hew drew
Full of love,
My soul was oned
With her Creator.
Other love I want not,
Surrendered now to my God,
That my Beloved is for me,
And I am for my Beloved.

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2 thoughts on “Teresa’s Poetry

    • No, not my translation. It comes from volume 3 of the collected works of St. Teresa, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D.

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