Hadewijch - Of great Love in high thoughts I long to think, day and night
Type of Spiritual Experience
Although the 'she' in this poem is usually interpreted to mean the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mary was the visualisation, the objective was her Higher spirit, visualised in this way - the 'holy ghost' of each of us
A description of the experience
OF GREAT LOVE IN HIGH THOUGHTS [No. 31]
Of great Love in high thoughts
I long to think, day and night.
She with her terrible might
so opens my heart
I must surrender all to her.
In the high birth of her battles
I sought my true delight
So she took me and threw me into her prison.
I thought I might suffer there without harm
thought myself safe in her embrace
that she would lead me well
down those narrow paths of hers.
But when I sought to rest in her grace
she only assailed me with fresh commands.
This is a wonderful report!
The greater the love, the greater the suffering.
This is a great wonder, beyond understanding
Love’s giving and her taking.
When she gives comfort
the tender fruits tremble on the vine.
I bid and beg of Love
that she open noble hearts
and teach them to sing her song:
the low notes of fear and the heights of hope.
Comfort and cruelty in one person
that’s the true taste of love.
Were wise Solomon still living
He could not unravel such a high thing.
No sermon can explain it
The song surpasses all notes.
The time I spent going after fishes
Hid in itself its own reward.
Hook and sea, both are long
But not the time, for those who love
thus shun worldly company.
It’s a song of losses and great gains.
Pride counsels me to hold fast
to hold so tightly, I shall capture
a Being beyond all bliss.
This music surpasses all songs.
The music that surpasses all songs -
I mean: Love in her might.
I say but a little, and yet not enough
for strange hearts, ever cold,
have suffered little for Love’s sake.
They don’t know how Love betrays
her riches only to high and noble hearts
nourishing them at her breast.
The might of Love is great
above our understanding
whether near or far the same
a peace that destroys all peace
this peace that dwells in love.
Those who make up their minds to follow her
shall find comfort on her breast
beloved in Love’s own lovely love.
He who wishes to follow Love’s way
Must regard neither cost nor shame
Nor pain, he must stand to everything
Even her most terrible commands
And render perfect service in every manner
alike in her coming and in her going.
Those who serve Love in faith and truth
Shall be made perfect lovers at last.
- Hadewijch of Brabant, 13th C
translated from the Dutch by Grace Andreacchi