One dark night,
fired with love's urgent longings
- ah, the sheer grace! -
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.
1. Understanding this stanza now to refer to contemplative purgation or
nakedness and poverty of spirit (which are all about the same),1 we can thus
explain it, as though the soul says:
Poor, abandoned, and unsupported by any of
the apprehensions of my soul (in the darkness of my intellect, the distress of
my will, and the affliction and anguish of my memory), left to darkness in pure
faith, which is a dark night for these natural faculties, and with my will
touched only by sorrows, afflictions, and longings of love of God, I went out
from myself. That is, I departed from my low manner of understanding, and my
feeble way of loving, and my poor and limited method of finding satisfaction in
God. I did this unhindered by either the flesh or the devil.
2. This was great happiness and a sheer grace for me, because through the
annihilation and calming of my faculties, passions, appetites, and affections,
by which my experience and satisfaction in God were base, I went out from my
human operation and way of acting to God's operation and way of acting. That is:
My intellect departed from itself, changing from human and natural to divine.
For united with God through this purgation, it no longer understands by means of
its natural vigor and light, but by means of the divine wisdom to which it was
And my will departed from itself and became divine. United with the
divine love, it no longer loves in a lowly manner, with its natural strength,
but with the strength and purity of the Holy Spirit; and thus the will does not
operate humanly in relation to God.
The memory, too, was changed into presentiments of eternal glory.
And finally, all the strength and affections of the soul, by means of this night
and purgation of the old self, are renewed with divine qualities and delights.2
An explanation of the first verse follows: One dark night.