Tras de un amoroso lance

San Juan de la Cruz, was probably the most consistently mystical poet of the Caholic priest-poets of the 16th century (compared, say, to Fray Luis de Leon) and this poem provides a great example of the transcendent power of faith experienced by the poet. The experience described is relentlessly uplifting as the poet pursues his faith ever higher.

The lover’s challenge (amoroso lance) which the poet pursues throughout this poem is of course his love of God. There is little ambiguity here..

 
Tras de un amoroso lance
y no de esperança falto
volé tan alto tan alto
que le di a la caça alcance.

I
Para que yo alcance diesse
a aqueste lance divino
tanto bolar me convino
que de vista me perdiesse
y con todo en este trance
en el buelo quedé falto
mas el amor fue tan alto
que le di a la caça alcance.

II
Quanto más alto suvía
deslumbróseme la vista
y la más fuerte conquista
en escuro se hazía
mas, por ser de amor el lance
di un ciego y oscuro salto
y fuy tan alto tan alto
que le di a la caça alcance.

III
Cuanto más alto llegava
de este lance tan subido
tanto más baxo y rendido
y abatido me hallava
dixe: No abrá quien alcance.
Abatíme tanto tanto
que fuy tan alto tan alto
que le di a la caça alcance.

IV
Por una estraña manera
mil buelos pasé de un buelo
porque esperança de cielo
tanto alcança quanto espera
esperé solo este lance
y en esperar no fuy falto
pues fuy tan alto tan alto,
que le di a la caça alcance.

From <http://www.poesi.as/sjc06.htm&gt;

The poem has a four line introduction to present the theme, and then four stanzas of eight lines each to develop it. The theme is of the poet pursuing his lover’s challenge ever higher, full of hope. Hs faith and love lifts him higher and higher throughout the poem, there is a recurring series of images of flight and elevation, interrupted sometimes by doubt and darkness. But it is the power of love and faith which dominates as the poet soars higher and higher, driven on by his faith and love of God which keep him rising up to an elevated plane. The poet is totally absorbed in the heavens, in his faith and there is no place here for the mundane or the earthly.

The Poetry Dude

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