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Emily and John

I don’t know if Emily Dickinson ever read John of the Cross, but the similarities of their experience is remarkable. They are both recounting their experience of union with God.

— This is Emily Dickinson 461 –
A Wife — at daybreak I shall be –
Sunrise — Hast thou a Flag for me?
At Midnight, I am but a Maid,
How short it takes to make a Bride –
Then — Midnight, I have passed from thee
Unto the East, and Victory –

Midnight — Good Night! I hear them call,
The Angels bustle in the Hall –
Softly my Future climbs the Stair,
I fumble at my Childhood’s prayer
So soon to be a Child no more –
Eternity, I’m coming — Sire,
Savior — I’ve seen the face — before!

— And this is John of the Cross –-

One dark night,
fired with love’s urgent longings
- ah, the sheer grace! -
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
- ah, the sheer grace! -
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

On that glad night
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.

This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
- him I knew so well -
there in a place where no one appeared.

O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.

Upon my flowering breast,
which I kept wholly for him alone,
there he lay sleeping,
and I caressing him
there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.

When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck
with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.

I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.