guardians_song: Icon depiction of the sporker Richard. (Default)
guardians_song ([personal profile] guardians_song) wrote2013-12-09 09:14 pm

So, on a whim, I looked up the poem relevant to the original "long dark night of the soul"

And... uuuuuh. Um. Soooo, this is a famous Christian poem, and...

On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings—oh, happy chance!—
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised—oh, happy chance!—
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart.

This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me—
A place where none appeared.

Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.

I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.


-St. John of the Cross

...no one noticed it was a gay love poem?

People were really rather... denser back in the 16th century, weren't they?

(Yes, yes, symbolism and spiritualism and so on and so forth... but no one ever spoke up and said 'Uh, the Captain Obvious interpretation is St. John of the Cross/Unknown Male'? Really? Dang...)

lliira: Fang from FF13 (Default)

[personal profile] lliira 2013-12-10 07:06 am (UTC)(link)
They knew it was sexual. They were a lot more explicit about connecting sexual ecstasy and religious ecstasy back then. Sex was not seen as a shameful thing, nor as a separate thing from God. Rather, all ecstasy was a pipeline to God, and vice versa.

When nuns talked about being brides of Jesus, they meant it in every way, and were completely open about their ecstatic sexual experiences with Him. Writing about mystical experiences as sexual, and vice versa, was very common. So was men writing as if they were in what we now consider the "feminine" position sexually vis a vis religious figures; while terror of crossing gender boundaries cropped up in the culture, it wasn't yet widespread. And the Church was very insistent about seeing itself as the "bride" of Christ. They didn't necessarily mean it to be what we would think of as a homosexual love poem, because they didn't think in terms of "homosexual" and "heterosexual". It was simply a love poem, an ecstatic and erotic submission to an experience of God.
lliira: Fang from FF13 (Default)

[personal profile] lliira 2013-12-10 07:57 pm (UTC)(link)
In the 16th century, things weren't as regimented as they are now. (Or as they became in the 19th century.) People certainly threw around accusations of people being too wedded to earthly pleasures. But people also reveled in earthly pleasures. (See Pope Alexander VI of the previous century for just one example.) And people -- the very-popular mystics in particular, the most popular of whom were women -- loved linking earthly pleasures to experiences of God, and vice versa.

Some people also HATED this stuff, and this hatred was linked to a hatred of femininity. And certainly the Church had been corrupt at its highest levels for a long time (again, see Pope Alexander VI). But the "reformers", in their zeal, wanted to throw out the good with the bad. Shakespeare enjoyed making fun of how dour and sex-hating they were. Even in Protestant England, they were generally seen as objects of ridicule and pity at best. The most annoying were "allowed" to sail off to America.

[personal profile] albatrosswing 2013-12-10 02:04 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm Jewish so.. this is lost on me. :p