Quote of the day, 15 October: St. Teresa of Avila

Poetry 9: On the efficacy of patience

Don’t let anything disturb you,
don’t let anything scare you,
everything passes,
God doesn’t move,
achieves everything.
Whoever has God
lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.

Translated by Adrian J. Cooney, O.C.D.

Let nothing disturb thee;
Let nothing dismay thee:
All things pass;
God never changes.
Patience attains
All that it strives for.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.

Translated by E. Alison Peers

Nada te turbe,
nada te espante,
todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia
todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene
nada le falta.
Sólo Dios basta.

Teresian scholar Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. offers a few clues concerning the authenticity of Saint Teresa’s poems in the 1985 edition of the collected works published by ICS Publications of Washington, DC:

When asked about the number of poems written by Madre Teresa, one can only speculate. Certainly, not all have been preserved, nor do we even know if we have a record of each of those that has been preserved. The poems we do have in our possession come to a number proportionately small when compared to what the number would be were we to have them all. According to María de San José, Teresa composed many romances about the variety of events that took place on her journeys to make foundations. And Ana de la Encarnación testifies that Madre Teresa was devoted to the saints and composed verses to sing on their feastdays. Ana de Jesús declares that during the Christmas season Teresa would compose words for carols to be sung by the nuns. Probably, in addition, a number of Teresa’s poems were not written down at all but were composed on the spot and recited orally so as to contribute to the celebration of some special occasion.

The pieces of paper on which her poems were written were easy to pass around and easy to lose. Thus we do not have the autographs of Teresa’s poetry. Recently, however, the Teresian scholar Tomás Alvarez [R.I.P.] did find in some Italian monasteries the first autograph fragments of Teresa’s poems. This discovery leaves scholars with the hopes that more may be found.

As for copies, the most important are those made by Padre Andrés de la Encarnación and preserved in manuscript 1400 in the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid. Padre Andrés was given the task in 1754 of seeking out all of Teresa’s writings in the archives and libraries of Spain. Modern editors base their editions of the poetry on the copy made by Padre Andrés. But both the lack of autographs and the mixture of Teresa’s poetry with that of other Carmelites give rise to the problem of authenticity, particularly the authenticity of some of the poems. Further critical study needs to be done. We selected for this translation those poems that Tomás Alvarez included in his Spanish edition and are grateful to Father Adrian J. Cooney for contributing to this volume by his English rendering of them. Rather than sacrifice the meaning of each verse for the sake of a metre and rhyme scheme as found in the original poems, the translator sought to provide a rendering that is both accurate and lyrical.

Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Teresa of Avila, St. 1963, The Complete Works of St. Teresa of Jesus, Vol. II, translated from the Spanish by Peers, E, Sheed and Ward, New York.

3 thoughts on “Quote of the day, 15 October: St. Teresa of Avila

Add yours

  1. Thank you for these translations. The version I know is in Victorian English, so these are lovely to read, and the details of the manuscripts too. Very interesting.

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