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Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Poetry of Saint Teresa of Ávila

Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640 )
Saint Teresa of Ávila 1615
Oil on canvas 67 x 69 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna




For you I live and come to be --
What would you like done with me?
Sovereign, awful majesty,
Knowing till eternity --
Goodness, gracious to my soul,
Highness, godhead, one and whole,
Look at this nonentity
Singing of her love for thee --
What would you like done with me?

I am yours, because you made me,
Yours, because you then redeemed me,
Yours, because you suffered for me,
Yours, because you clamored for me,
Yours, because you did not lose me,
What would you like done with me?

What commands then, good my lord,
By such a creature should be done?
Or what office have I won,
Being but a slave abhorred?
Can't you see me, my sweet one?
Me, my sweet one, can't you see
What would you like done with me?

Right here is my heart, you see,
Lo, I put it in your hand,
My body, soul, all I command,
My entrails and my loving thee.
Redeemer sweet who married me,
Since I gave my all for thee,
What would you like done with me?

Give me life or give me death.
Give me honor, give me shame,
War or peace, it's all the same.
Give me sickness, give me health.
Weakness, strength, I won't complain.
Come what may, I'll let it be.
What would you like done with me?

Give me wealth or poverty,
Give me rest, or anguish fell,
Give me sadness, give me glee,
Give me heaven, give me hell.
Light of life, pray hear me tell
How I surrendered all for thee.
What would you like done with me?

If you will, teach me to pray.
If not, give me aridity.
From all good things your praise I'll say --
Or else, give me sterility.
O thou sovereign majesty,
Peace I find alone in thee.
What would you like done with me?

Wisdom give me, if you will,
Or, if you choose, give ignorance.
Give me wealthy circumstance,
Or give me thirst and hunger still.
Give me shade or light until
I'm tossed about unceasingly.
What would you like done with me?

If you command, at rest I lie,
For your love's sake I'll idle be.
Or if my labor's your decree,
Working hard, I want to die.
Tell me, "Where and how and why?"
Sweetest love, I ask of thee.
What would you like done with me?

Give me Tabor or Calvary,
Desert or the fruitful earth.
Be I Job in his sad dearth
Or John at bosom sucking free.
Perhaps I'll flourish gracefully,
Or sterile stay, if such must be --
What would you like done with me?

Be I Joseph, cast in jail,
Or Joseph, lord of Egypt's shore,
Be I David, punished sore,
Or David, king whom all men hail.
Be I Jonah in the whale,
Or Jonah safe, miraculously
What would you like done with me?

Be I silent, be I speaking,
Bearing fruit or bearing naught,
Let the Law show forth my fault,
Or Gospel soothe, if such you're seeking.
Be I happy, or by pain caught,
I only live when I'm with thee!
What would you like done with me?

For you I live and came to be --
What would you like done with me?



Saint Teresa of Avila (Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada ) (1515 to 1582)
– translated from the Spanish by Alan D. Corré





God alone is enough.
Let nothing upset you,
let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins
all it seeks.
Whoever has God
lacks nothing:
God alone is enough

Saint Teresa of Avila (Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada ) (1515 to 1582)
– translated from the Spanish by Eric W. Vogt





Laughter Came From Every Brick

Just these two words He spoke
changed my life,
"Enjoy Me."

What a burden I thought I was to carry -
a crucifix, as did He.

Love once said to me, "I know a song,
would you like to hear it?"

And laughter came from every brick in the street
and from every pore
in the sky.

After a night of prayer, He
changed my life when
He sang,
"Enjoy Me."

Saint Teresa of Avila (Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada ) (1515 to 1582)
-From Love Poems from God, by Daniel Ladinsky


In the Foreword to Eric W. Vogt’s The Complete Poetry of St. Teresa of Ávila, [New Orleans: University Press of the South, 1996], the Archbishop of Manila Jaime L. Cardinal Sin explained the nature of St Teresa’s poetry:

“The poems of St. Teresa always speak of God. They speak of Him as something as natural as the air one breathes. She does not tender fanciful arguments to prove that God exists. Her poems express to us the reality of God himself because she herself has found Him.”