A Poem of St. Teresa of Avila  

Posted by Agnes Regina in

I translated this wonderful ballad of St. Teresa the year before last, for my 'Creative Writing: Translation' class. In this Lenten season, perhaps it is fitting that I post this beautiful prayer for complete resignation to God's holy Will.


Thine am I, I was born for Thee;
What is Thy command for me?

Majesty most sovereign,

O Thou wisdom without end,

Goodness, to my soul a friend,

God most High, that e'er hast been,

Look on the vileness and sin

That today sings Love to Thee.

What is Thy command for me?

I am Thine, that Thou didst make;

Thine, redeemed, O Lord, by Thee;

Thine, for Thou didst suffer me;

Thou didst call; my self, then, take.

Saved by thee from hell's dark lake,

I went not astray from Thee;

What is Thy command for me?

What, good Lord, dost Thou command

That this worthless servant do?

O, what work is given into

This, Thy sinful servant's hand?

See, sweet Lover, here I am,

Lover sweet, I come to Thee;

What is Thy command for me?

See my heart, O Lord - I place

It within Thy hand. My soul,

Entrails, life and body whole,

All I fix upon Thy face;

Sweet Redeemer of our race,

Since I gave myself to Thee

What is Thy command for me?

Give me death or give me life,

Health or sickness give to me,

Honor give or infamy,

Give me greater peace or strife,

Strength or weakness to my life,

I accept it all from Thee…

What is Thy command for me?

Wealth or poverty be given,

Consolation, misery;

Joy or sorrow give to me,

Give me hell or give me heaven,

Scorching sun or joy of living,

I surrender all to Thee;

What is Thy command for me?

If Thou wilt, give prayer to me,

Or give dryness in its stead;

Pour devotion on my head,

Or if not, sterility.

O Thou sovereign Majesty,

I find peace in none but Thee;

What is Thy command for me?

Wisdom, knowledge, grant to me,

Or for love, give foolishness.

Give me years of thy largesse

Or of starving scarcity;

Cloudy days or clarity,

Whirl me hither, thither, free.

What is Thy command for me?

Wouldst Thou have me leisure lie?

I will laze for love of thee;

If my labor thou wouldst see,

Laboring for thee I'd die.

Tell me when, where, how and why,

Tell, dear Lover, tell to me,

What is Thy command for me?

Calvary's pain or Thabor's light,

Desert land or fruitful rest;

Be I Job in deepest plight,

Or John at his mother's breast;

If a fruitful vine I be

Or unfruitful, pleasing Thee,

What is Thy command for me?

Be I Joseph bound in jail

Or as Egypt's ruler great;

David suffering great travail,

Or David in royal state,

Be I Jonah in the whale

Or from his dark prison free,

What is Thy command for me?

In my speech and silence too,

Be I fruitful, be I not,

Let the law show me my fault,

Let me joy in Gospels true;

In my joys and in my woe,

Thou alone, come live in me;

What is Thy command for me?

Thine am I, I was born for Thee;

What is Thy command for me?

-- St. Teresa of Avila -- tr. Inés de Erausquin. Oct. 19, 2008

This entry was posted on March 06, 2010 at Saturday, March 06, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



A lovely translation, Agnes. Perhaps Lent is your poetry season. It is odd how the rhyme scheme changes in the last few stanzas, but it does not distract.

March 8, 2010 at 5:04 PM

St. Teresa changed the rhyme scheme there in the original - it caught me by surprise as well, but as you say, it's not much of a distraction. Sometime you'll have to study Spanish to read the Saint's work in the original language.

Lent does have a way of inspiring, though this was done long ago. Glad you enjoyed it!

March 8, 2010 at 10:14 PM

"estadi espanis plis" quoth the lady (widow) from Chile who was too deaf too learn Swedish (she pronounced trött - correctly as French would pronounce treutte - throh it means tired, but it took me three times of asking her to repeat before i understood), but since then, I have followed her injnction.

Do you have a link to Spanish original?

March 11, 2010 at 5:13 AM

Here you go: http://www.poesiaspoemas.com/santa-teresa-de-avila/vuestra-soy

March 11, 2010 at 10:26 AM

http://o-x.fr/62o9 - has been shared by twitter function, will be shared by facebook, commenting on link to this post.

March 12, 2010 at 9:10 AM

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