“I Am Thine, I Was Born For Thee”: Five Poems of St Teresa of Avila

Yesterday was the feast of St Teresa of Avila (28th March 1515 – 15th October 1582) Discalced Carmelite and Doctor of the Church. Today we post five of her mystical poems translated into English. It is one of the many wonderful aspects of her amazing life that we can reflect on, her love of poetry to express her passionate love for God. 

This remarkable woman has been a source of inspiration for many Catholics in the past five centuries. Borne out of the darkness of the Counter Reformation’s resolved determination to undo the Satanic destruction of Luther, Calvin et al., St. Teresa’s words and actions were great guiding lights in an era that saw people like St. Ignatius of Loyala and St. John of the Cross bring a glory to the faith that seemed impossible during the dark days of Protestantism’s foundation.

While many read St. Teresa’s longer work ‘The Interior Castle’ (and rightly so) there is much comfort to be found in some of shorter works, namely her poems. Many of these poems are succinct snippets of mystical wisdom, of the kind that can connect with a person in a split second. St. Therese of Lisieux called prayer “a surge of the heart”, an instantaneous transformation. St. Teresa spoke of it in a similar way when she spoke of mental prayer, of the ecstasies and abandonment of subjugation to mental things that can be found when immersed in reflection and prayer.

In her poems, any line can automatically stick in the mind and transport the reader to that world. Of serenity. Of faith.

They are worth reading, particularly for their imagery relating to forgetting about the material world around us and connecting with the rich world unseen, both our interior souls and the souls of those around us.


Let Nothing Trouble You – (Nada te turbe)

Let nothing trouble you.

Let nothing scare you.

All is fleeting.

God alone is unchanging.


Everything obtains.

Who possesses God

Nothing wants.

God alone suffices.


Christ Has No Body – (Cristo no tiene Cuerpo)

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,

no hands but yours,

no feet but yours,

Yours are the eyes through which is to look out

Christ’s compassion to the world;

Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
doing good;

Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.


Self Surrender – El abandono de sí mismo 

How blessed is the heart with love fast bound

With God the centre of every thought

Renouncing all created things as naught

In Him its glory and joy are found

Even from self, its cares are now set free

T’wards God alone it aims- its actions tend

Joyful and Swift it journeys to its end

O’er the wild waves of life’s tempestuous seas.


Divine Beauty – Belleza Divina 

Oh beauty that does far transcend
all other beauty! That you design.

Without a wound our hearts to pain –

Without a pang our wills to bend

To hold all love for creatures vain.

O mystic love-knot that dost bind.

Two beings of such diverse kind.

How can you ever be severed?

For bound, such strength we gain from Thee,

We take for joy the griefs we find!

Things void of being linked, unite

With that great Beauty Infinite

You fill my soul, which still hungers

You love where men find only ill

Our nothing grows precious, by your might!


I am Thine, I was born for Thee – (Vuestra soy, para Vos nací)

Lord, I am Thine, for I was born for Thee !

Reveal what is it Thou dost ask of me.

O sovereign Lord, of majesty supreme !

O Wisdom, that existed from all time !

Bounty, showing pity on my soul !

God, one sole Being, merciful, sublime.

Behold this basest of created things.

As thus, with hardihood its love it sings.

And tell me, Lord, what Thou dost ask of me !

Lo, I am Thine ! Thou hast created me :

And I am Thine, Thou hast redeemed me :

And I am Thine, for Thou dost bear with me.

And Thine, for Thou hast called me to Thee,

And Thine, Who dost preserve me at Thy cost

Nor leavest me to perish ‘mid the lost

Say what it is, Lord, Thou dost will of me.

Declare what dost decree, O Master kind !

If serf so vile have any fitting task,

And tell what office by Thy will ordained

Is work that from so base a slave dost ask !

Behold, sweet Love, I wait for Thy command,

Behold me. Lord, before Whose face I stand !

Do Thou reveal what Thou dost will of me ?

Behold my heart, which here I bring, and in

Thine hand as glad entire free-offering lay,

Together with my body, life, and soul,

The love, the longings that my being sway !

To Thee, Redeemer and most gentle Spouse,

In willing holocaust I pledge my vows.

What is there. Lord, that I may do for Thee ?

Bestow long life, or straightway bid me die ;

Let health be mine, or pain and sickness send,

With honour or dishonour ; be my path

Beset by war, or peaceful till the end.

My strength or weakness be as Thou shalt choose.

For naught Thou askest shall I e’er refuse,

I only wish what Thou wilt have of me.

Assign me riches, keep in poverty,

And let me cherished or neglected dwell,

In joy or mourning as Thou wilt, upraised

To highest heaven, or hurled down to hell !

Whether the sky be bright, from cloudlets free,

It matters not, I leave the choice to Thee,

What lot, Lord, wilt Thou decide for me ?

Give contemplation if Thou wilt, or let

My lonely soul in dryness ever pine ;

Abundance and devotion be the gift

Thou choosest, or a sterile soul be mine !

Majesty supreme, in naught apart

From Thy decree can I find peace of heart !

Say what it is, Lord, Thou dost wish of me ?

Lord, give me wisdom, or, if love demand.

Leave me in ignorance ; it matters naught

If mine be years of plenty, or beset

With famine direful and with parching drought !

Be darkness over all or daylight clear.

Despatch me hither, keep me stationed here,

Say what it is, Lord, Thou wilt have of me ?

If Thou shouldst destine me for happiness,

For Love’s sake, joy and happiness I greet ;

Bid me endure and labour till I die.

Resigned, in work and pain my death I’ll meet,

Reveal the how, the where, the when ; for this

Is the sole boon, O Love, I crave of Thee,

That thou declare what Thou wouldst have of me !

Let Calvary or Thabor be my fate,

A desert or a fertile land of rest ;

Like Job, in sorrow let me mourning weep,

Or lie, like John, in peace upon Thy breast ;

Bear fruit and flourish, or, a withered vine

I’ll perish fruitless, so the choice be Thine !

Reveal, O Lord, what Thou dost ask of me !

Like Joseph as he lay in shackles bound.

Or holding over Egypt first command ;

David chastised, atoning for his sins,

Or David crowned as ruler o’er the land ;

With Jonas struggling, ‘mid the raging sea

Submerged, or set from ills and tempests free

Declare, O Lord, what Thou wilt have of me !

Then bid me speak or bid me silence keep,

Make me a fecund or a barren land ;

Expose my wounds by the stern Law’s decree

Or comfort me by Gospel message bland.

Let me in torture lie or comfort give,

I crave alone that Thou within me live,

And shouldst reveal what Thou wilt have of me !

Lord, I am Thine, for I was born for Thee !

Reveal what is it Thou dost ask of me.


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