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translated from a manuscript found in an abandoned 17th century Spanish convent








Dusk-veiled and cloistered here I turn my back

upon a cruel world. Deluding love

cast out, I follow Saviour’s track,

God’s universe and Jordan’s holy dove.

For midnight trysts I keep the sacred Mass

and morning’s light is rosary’s yew beads.

Let others lust and fall down sin’s crevasse

for only Christ now satisfies my needs.

My spouse, my body is for you alone,

your Grace caresses my young swelling breasts,

your hand in mine will lead me to your throne,

without your golden touch my heart protests.

And so each night I bare my soul for you,

the one and only who’ll be always true.






He must be cruel to be kind and so

I wear a cross of thorns upon my breast;

beneath this habit spines claw deep and slow

into my flesh for I have still transgressed.

And Saviour’s blood stains penitential skin

and shows redeeming path to his pure heart;

the iron sting recalls those nails within,

for Christ’s sake let me ever bleed and smart.

It’s virgin’s blood and shed for you alone,

this gift is all my heart for you to keep.

Come, ravish me and hear my burning moan,

then soothe me still with your eternal sleep.

No joy without love’s lambent flame that heals,

no rest without the torment that reveals.





To suffer is to learn and then become

transformed into a rarer soul: rough stone

that’s mined from darkest caves will soon succumb

to fire and be refined in gold-wrought throne.

For this I fast and mortify thinned flesh

until sharp bones stick through my pallid skin;

no food can please, no water can refresh

my raging hunger and my thirst within.

My beauty cannot last, let it die here:

eyes’ snare, lips’ rose, ears’ pearls, all these must fade

in dust. Then let young body now appear

as spectre in dusk graveyard’s broken shade.

For I am not afraid, except of lies

which numb my sense and fill my heart with cries.





My Lord, I bend myself before your light:

a wretched sinner, take me as I am

and hold me fast, possess my heart tonight

entirely: love supreme, destroy life’s sham.

I shall perfume this penanced flesh for you,

for you alone recite soft psalms of praise.

Exclude this cloak, my ciliac undo,

take off the darkening veil, unloose my stays

and feel this body’s heart, caress this breast

of favour, take me in entirety;

for solely then shall I be truly blessed,

forget this earth and man’s impiety.

Look, here I lie, my lips apart for you:

come, taste their dew and be for ever true.





Strange how despite of sin my beauty grows,

no mortifying can appease its bloom.

Chastisement, penance and the barbed flail’s blows

cannot prevent Superior’s languid room.

Is this a test to prick my martyr’s blood?

Can she examine my anatomy

until chaste body feels a yearning flood?

With timid downcast eyes I can but plea.

My virgin soul weeps for another sphere

of ecstasy in one soul’s craving look;

possession of my wounded heart pains here

deep, deep inside the woman you forsook.

Cast on a ledge above profound abyss

I ache for ultimate, consuming bliss.





You seal my liquid eyes with fervid lips;

no more want I in this ecstatic trance:

my body suppliant to your darts’ tips,

my skin aflame in rapture’s cosmic dance.

Now take me: this oblivious self is yours,

all yours my one, sublime eternal love.

I can no more but lie on death’s strange shores

upon your cheek and die again above.

Feed on my breasts for they are heaven’s food,

gaze deep into my eyes, for can’t you see

between my curves there’s nothing can delude

and all I do is pray to you: "love me."

Again, a thousand-fold, please let me die

within your heart; cease my perennial cry.





I am your Lord’s handmaiden, your delight,

my body’s all for you, so set it free:

my eyes to see the glory of your sight,

my nose to scent perfume of sanctity,

my lips to kiss your words of sacred love,

my breasts to feed you with delicious praise,

my ears to hear your angel choirs above,

my heart to give to you to keep always,

my legs to twine with yours like milk-weed shoots,

my thighs to part a way for godly strength,

my secret grove to squeeze delicious fruits,

my womb to bear your adoration’s length.

What other lover could I want or lack?

Before your Majesty they are just slack.



Francis Pettitt 1999