A Lone Young Shepherd

A lone young shepherd lived in pain
Withdrawn from pleasure and contentment,
His thoughts fixed on a shepherd-girl
His heart an open wound with love.

He weeps, but not from the wound of love,
There is no pain in such a wound
However deeply it opens the heart;
He weeps in knowing he’s been forgotten.

That one thought: his shining one
Has forgotten him is such great pain
That he gives himself up to brutal handling in a foreign land,
His heart an open wound with love.

The shepherd says: I pity the one
Who draws himself back from my love,
And does not seek the joy of my presence,
Though my heart is an open wound with love for him.

After a long time he climbed a tree,
And spread his shining arms,
And hung by them, and died,
His heart an open wound with love.

St. John of the Cross

 

From The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross
Published by ICS Publications, Washington, D.C.
Used with permission.