Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ
by St. John of the Cross
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History knows St. John of the Cross, Carmelite friar and priest during the Counter-
Reformation, not just as an iconic spiritual figure, but also one of Spanish literature.
This poem of forty stanzas tells the story of the soul’s search for Christ. In it, the soul is
portrayed as a bride searching for her bridegroom after having become separated from
him. Overall, the poem loosely follows the narrative of Solomon’s Song of Songs and can
serve as an allegorical reading thereof in light of the Gospel. It is interesting to note that
one can even read the poem as an early Spanish translation of Solomon’s Song of Songs
, as translations of the Bible into the vernacular were forbidden at the time. Even so, this
poem is not nor does it claim to be a translation, but rather a literary interpretation.