Stanza ix

Why, after wounding
This heart, hast Thou not healed it?
And why, after stealing it,
Hast Thou thus abandoned it,
And not carried away the stolen prey?

HERE the soul returns to the Beloved, still complaining of its
pain; for that impatient love which the soul now exhibits admits
of no rest or cessation from pain; so it sets forth its griefs in
all manner of ways until it finds relief. The soul seeing itself
wounded and lonely, and as no one can heal it but the Beloved Who
has wounded it, asks why He, having wounded its heart with that
love which the knowledge of Him brings, does not heal it in the
vision of His presence; and why He thus abandons the heart which
He has stolen through the love Which inflames it, after having
deprived the soul of all power over it. The soul has now no power
over its heart–for he who loves has none–because it is
surrendered to the Beloved, and yet He has not taken it to
Himself in the pure and perfect transformation of love in glory.

‘Why, after wounding this heart,
hast Thou not healed it?’

2. The enamoured soul is complaining not because it is wounded,
for the deeper the wound the greater the joy, but because, being
wounded, it is not healed by being wounded unto death. The wounds
of love are so deliciously sweet, that if they do not kill, they
cannot satisfy the soul. They are so sweet that it desires to die
of them, and hence it is that it says, ‘Why, after wounding this
heart, hast Thou not healed it?’ That is, ‘Why hast Thou struck it
so sharply as to wound it so deeply, and yet not healed it by
killing it utterly with love? As Thou art the cause of its pain in
the affliction of love, be Thou also the cause of its health by a
death from love; so the heart, wounded by the pain of Thy absence,
shall be healed in the delight and glory of Thy Sweet presence.’
Therefore it goes on:

‘And why, after stealing it,
hast Thou thus abandoned it?’

3. Stealing is nothing else but the act of a robber in
dispossessing the owner of his goods, and possessing them himself.
Here the soul complains to the Beloved that He has robbed it of
its heart lovingly, and taken it out of its power and possession,
and then abandoned it, without taking it into His own power and
possession as the thief does with the goods he steals, carrying
them away with him. He who is in love is said to have lost his
heart, or to have it stolen by the object of his love; because it
is no longer in his own possession, but in the power of the object
of his love, and so his heart is not his own, but the property of
the person he loves.

4. This consideration will enable the soul to determine whether it
loves God simply or not. If it loves Him it will have no heart for
itself, nor for its own pleasure or profit, but for the honour,
glory, and pleasure of God; because the more the heart is occupied
with self, the less is it occupied with God. Whether God has
really stolen the heart, the soul may ascertain by either of these
two signs: Is it anxiously seeking after God? and has it no
pleasure in anything but in Him, as the soul here says? The reason
of this is that the heart cannot rest in peace without the
possession of something; and when its affections are once placed,
it has neither the possession of itself nor of anything else;
neither does it perfectly possess what it loves. In this state its
weariness is in proportion to its loss, until it shall enter into
possession and be satisfied; for until then the soul is as an
empty vessel waiting to be filled, as a hungry man eager for food,
as a sick man sighing for health, and as a man suspended in the

‘And not carried away the stolen prey?’

5. ‘Why dost Thou not carry away the heart which Thy love has
stolen, to fill it, to heal it, and to satiate it giving it
perfect rest in Thyself?’

6. The loving soul, for the sake of greater conformity with the
Beloved, cannot cease to desire the recompense and reward of its
love for the sake of which it serves the Beloved, otherwise it
could not be true love, for the recompense of love is nothing
else, and the soul seeks nothing else, but greater love, until it
reaches the perfection of love; for the sole reward of love is
love, as we learn from the prophet Job, who, speaking of his own
distress, which is that of the soul now referred to, says: ‘As a
servant longeth for the shade, as the hireling looketh for the end
of his work; so I also have had empty months, and have numbered to
myself wearisome nights. If I sleep, I say, When shall I arise?
and again, I shall look for the evening, and shall be filled with
sorrows even till darkness.’ [84]

7. Thus, then, the soul on fire with the love of God longs for the
perfection and consummation of its love, that it may be completely
refreshed. As the servant wearied by the heat of the day longs for
the cooling shade, and as the hireling looks for the end of his
work, so the soul for the end of its own. Observe, Job does not
say that the hireling looks for the end of his labour, but only
for the end of his work. He teaches us that the soul which loves
looks not for the end of its labour, but for the end of its work;
because its work is to love, and it is the end of this work, which
is love, that it hopes for, namely, the perfect love of God. Until
it attains to this, the words of Job will be always true of it–
its months will be empty, and its nights wearisome and tedious.
It is clear, then, that the soul which loves God seeks and looks
for no other reward of its services than to love God perfectly.


THE soul, having reached this degree of love, resembles a sick man
exceedingly wearied, whose appetite is gone, and to whom his food
is loathsome, and all things annoyance and trouble. Amidst all
things that present themselves to his thoughts, or feelings, or
sight, his only wish and desire is health; and everything that
does not contribute thereto is weariness and oppressive. The soul,
therefore, in pain because of its love of God, has three
peculiarities. Under all circumstances, and in all affairs, the
thought of its health–that is, the Beloved–is ever present to
it; and though it is obliged to attend to them because it cannot
help it, its heart is ever with Him. The second peculiarity,
namely, a loss of pleasure in everything, arises from the first.
The third also, a consequence of the second, is that all things
become wearisome, and all affairs full of vexation and annoyance.

2. The reason is that the palate of the will having touched and
tasted of the food of the love of God, the will instantly, under
all circumstances, regardless of every other consideration, seeks
the fruition of the Beloved. It is with the soul now as it was
with Mary Magdalene, when in her burning love she sought Him in
the garden. She, thinking Him to be the gardener, spoke to Him
without further reflection, saying: ‘If thou hast taken Him hence,
tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ [85]
The soul is under the influence of a like anxiety to find Him in
all things, and not finding Him immediately, as it desires–but
rather the very reverse–not only has no pleasure in them, but is
even tormented by them, and sometimes exceedingly so: for such
souls suffer greatly in their intercourse with men and in the
transactions of the world, because these things hinder rather than
help them in their search.

3. The bride in the Canticle shows us that she had these three
peculiarities when seeking the Bridegroom. ‘I sought Him and found
Him not; the keepers that go about the city found me, they struck
me and wounded me: the keepers of the walls took away my cloak.’
[86] The keepers that go about the city are the affairs of this
world, which, when they ‘find’ a soul seeking after God, inflict
upon it much pain, and grief, and loathing; for the soul not only
does not find in them what it seeks, but rather a hindrance. They
who keep the wall of contemplation, that the soul may not enter–
that is, evil spirits and worldly affairs–take away the cloak of
peace and the quiet of loving contemplation. All this inflicts
infinite vexation on the soul enamoured of God; and while it
remains on earth without the vision of God, there is no relief,
great or small, from these afflictions, and the soul therefore
continues to complain to the Beloved, saying: