The Flame: The Lucky Night!!!!!

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
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mat james
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The Flame: The Lucky Night!!!!!

Post by mat james » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:02 am

Ambiguity, it seems, is a very alluring way to write; alluring for both reader and writer. How can we express the ineffable? How can we each say, in our own way, what can’t be said? And how can the reader grasp what can’t quite be touched?
Well, we wallow in and around and flow in the "undertow"…
Chewing on Dark chocolate while sipping hot, ground black coffee with cream has its own aromas and scents some meaning to a life; this is what the poetry of Leonard Cohen does for me. So read on with caution as I stir the cup of crazy fragrance, all around.

In the book The Flame, on page 18 we have the poem “The Lucky Night!!!!!”.
We don’t so much have an original Leonard Cohen poem as we have an original translation and lovely interpretation of Cruz’ “Dark Night” (of the Soul). In this poem Leonard identifies with Cruz’s way of understanding Divinity and becomes, with the interaction of his Soul, “G~d”; or what Cruz calls “god by participation”…where the individual becomes conscious of one’s own divine soul and that individual soul unifies with the Divinity's Soul, and then both soul and Soul experience co-existent Union and this "unified heart" equates to a 1st “position” of ( Leonard’s “various positions”) the transcendent mystic…man becomes god and G~d becomes man in a spiritual Holy Communion.
Leonard does not seem comfortable with labels like “mystic” but he is happy to use the poetry of the Spanish Mystics to express his transcendent leanings and “listing”... like a sailor empowered by the breath of his g~d; hence, “The Lucky Night!!!!!” of an immortal moment outside of time; the eternal I/We/Am.

Like Jesus’ last thoughts on the Cross, Leonard Cohen’s poetry employs 3 defining attitudes or, “various positions”:
• Doubt…….. (“Why hast Thou forsaken me?”)
• Absolute faith…….. (“Into thy hands I commend my Spirit”)
• Indifference…….. (“It is finished”)
And one way or another these 3 attitudes oscillating-ly draw him in the direction of his g~d and somewhere in the mix he discovers his feminine soul; and it is she, soul, who sets out and consummates their existential Quest (Leonard and soul) to and with Divinity/G~d…and like Solomon and San Juan de la Cruz, Leonard Cohen uses the symbol of a dark and swarthy female beauty to symbolise that soul of his, who is:
“of all and all, the only One”, in the poem below;
…the only one whom he ever truly sought and ever truly loved; and the only one/ One he ever-so-deeply wanted to love.
Much of his poetry and this book, “The Flame”, is almost exclusively about this soulful endeavour and yet he experiences this endeavour from the “various positions” of doubt, faith, indifference and soulful-transcendence mentioned above.

My job now, as I see it, is to explain myself! or forever hold my silly tongue :roll:

The proof is in the pudding as they say and the keys to the Kingdom of Leonard are at hand. In the book, The Flame,the symbols abound, the allusions are prolific and the Cohen Coda is eager to be found. Leonard has laid it out beautifully as if to smile and say;
“seek and you shall find. Let the blind see, let the lame walk, let the waters change to Wine…and blessed are the peace-makers.” 8)
So here it is; Leonard Cohen's enlightened version of Cruz' poem, Dark Night of the Soul. And what a beautiful and informative interpretation it is...

The Lucky Night!!!!!

Let's say that on that lucky night
I found my house in order
and I could slip away unseen
tho' burning with desire

Escaping down a secret stair
I cross into the forest
the night is dark but I am safe—
my house at last in order

But luck or not, I do it right
and no one sees me leaving
hidden, blind and secret night—
my heart the only beacon

But O that beacon lights my way
more surely than the sun,
and She is waiting for me there—
of all and all, the only One

And then the night commands me
to enter in Her side
and be as Adam is to Eve
before they need divide

So I can show Her what's been kept
for Her and Her alone—
a secret place that Love had left
before the world was born

Her nipples underneath My hand
Her fingers in My hair—
a forest crying from the dead
and fragrance everywhere

And from the wall a grazing wind
weightless and serene
wounds Me as I part Her lips
and wounds Us in between

And fastened here, surrendered to
My Lover and My Lover,
We spread and drown as lilies do—
forever and forever

After reading this poem, if you have the book "The Flame" at hand, look to the right (page 19) for here we have his sketch of his beautiful swarthy soul; it is this sketch, I suggest, which represents artistically his muse, his feminine aspect, his soul. And it is She who puts Leonard in touch with their g~d.
She is a bit of a two-timer, this Lady Midnight, in that she loves and spends time with both Leonard and Leonard's G~d.

When She is with Leonard, he is happy.
When she is off with g~d, Leonard is lost in some Dark Night.
And when She takes Leonard back to their G~d, Leonard is... The Lucky Night of Union, as he says in the final verse above,

"And fastened here, surrendered to
My Lover and My Lover,
We spread and drown as lilies do—
forever and forever"

...and off they sail in transcendence.

"Suzanne takes you down to her place by the River
...and all men will be sailors then
until the sea shall free them..."
(an early song, "Suzanne", by Leonard Cohen)

Or, as the various scriptures put it, "That Thou Art, I am Who Am,"
(I am the existential-immortal-eternal-I AM.........and so are you, Leonard!)
This instruction from the Divine comes via his Lady Midnight Soul, his muse,and enters into his consciousness thanks to her good work. Indeed it must have been a "Lucky Night". :idea:

And Leonard has been poetically musing and singing variations of this theme for a long, long time as he suggests in this book, The Flame.

I'll continue shortly, but in the meantime buy the book if you haven't already as it is a worthwhile read and as the saying goes, the "pictures paint a thousand words" :D

This is fun 8) :D . All thanks to Leonard Cohen for setting the task and lifting that "Flame" in the darkness.
...and the darker, apparently the better...

You want it darker!? ;-)

Mat James (MatbellybuttonggazerJ)
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: The Flame: The Lucky Night!!!!!

Post by mat james » Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:51 am

Songs of Solomon 2

I am the Rose of Sharon
and the Lily of the valley
...My beloved is mine, and I am his:
He feeds among the lilies
Till the day breaks
And the shadows have fled away
Turn, my beloved
and like a doe or a hart,
leap the mountains of separation! (our separated minds)
...Dissolve my mind
my separation
from You, my Love.

(My mixed translation and reduction/interpretation)

or, as Leonard puts it above:

"And fastened here, surrendered to
My Lover and My Lover,
We spread and drown as lilies do—
forever and forever"

( ... -28-16.pdf)

Cruz' poem "The Spiritual Canticle" is one of Cruz' interpretations of Solomon's Songs. Cruz picks up on Solomon's metaphors for describing the Spiritual journey to Union.
"The Lucky Night!!!" is Cohen's understanding of Cruz' perspective on that Spiritual Union, and I suggest that Leonard Cohen is celebrating their mutual good fortune, an experience of Divine Union/transcendence. "The Lucky Night!!!!!" poem suggests that transcendent souls are each a Lily in the valley, lost among divinity, as the mountains of separation are no longer present; and they are each and all,

"Lost among the Lilies" (Cruz' last line of The Dark Night of the Soul))
"We spread and drown as lilies do, forever and forever" (Cohen's last line of "The Lucky Night!!!" poem above.)
...and like Solomon and his girl, they leap the mountains of separation with doe/ hart-like agility, and the mountains crumble and dissolve and the "blessed mountains weep" in spiritual Union.
In "The Darker Album", Leonard also tells us that he is "Traveling light" with one or two "like we used to do".
I suggest these "one or two" may well be Solomon and Cruz.

Leonard was very grateful that Cruz helped him understand Solomon's Divine poetic wisdom. That is one of the messages in this poem. Leonard loved the Spanish for several good reasons and Cruz is perhaps the major one.

But the observations above are my (original) take on things and no one I know seems to be of the same opinion...So take my opinion lightly and hang onto your own.
What would I know? :)

All in good fun,

Mat James (MatbbgJ)
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: The Flame: The Lucky Night!!!!!

Post by mat james » Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:14 am

So what is the big deal about all this?
Who cares if Cohen was influenced by Solomon, Cruz or Teresa?
Aren’t they simply three of many?
He was a widely read guy, so what about all the others?

Well, my response to this (attitudes/questions) is very simple; primarily, I am discussing Leonard’s final composition, his Last Testament, his book, “The Flame” and I am noticing certain patterns, a method perhaps and perhaps also a message.
You, of course, enjoy the book in your own way and don’t let me put you off with all my transcendent adventures.
I’ll continue on shortly, so come back if you enjoy this sort of sailing among transcendence, and getting
"lost among the lilies..."
just "... spread and drown as lilies do - forever and forever "

"...and all men will be sailors then until the Sea shall free them..." (Leonard Cohen).

MatbbgJ (Mat James)
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: The Flame: The Lucky Night!!!!!

Post by mat james » Sun Feb 03, 2019 5:40 am



The Cover: (The Australian version)

Let's go back to the Cover (of this book, The Flame)
I'm looking at the printed title, Leonard Cohen, The Flame.
The central image is The Burning Bush; "The Flame" (that does not consume...and exists on holy ground ) from Exodus, where Moses meets his match, the G~d of his fathers ...and Leonard.
There is also Leonard's symbol of the "Unified Heart" in a circle.
And there is one more intriguing little symbol which looks a bit like a Japanese character (and it may well be...???)
...but I suggest it is key to his connection to the poetry of Cruz; a symbol for the "secret stair" in Cohen's poem above, what Cruz describes as a "secret ladder" (Jacob's ladder/stairway; Genesis 28:10-19: ) in his poem The Dark Night of the Soul.
Cruz, in his book The Dark Night articulates brilliantly a possible interpretation of this intriguing dream of Jacob's...he explains how the individual's contemplating soul is the stairway to heaven...And Leonard, I suggest, is acknowledging San Juan de La Cruz' genius; as one of his important Spiritual mentors. Leonard does this by creating and utilising this "secret ladder" colophon/image which you will find on the front cover (Australian version) and scattered throughout the book, The Flame.
This unexplained colophon (to my knowledge) is often present when Leonard is on topic, that is, referring to the Transcendent journey of himself and his soul toward his G~d;
... up the secret ladder,
...beyond prayer and meditation
... and onto the rungs of contemplation
... and in this moment of transcendence (experiential) he is assisted by his ever-feminine-soul, referred to as his "only One" in the last line of the 4th verse of The Lucky Night!!!, posted above.
(well, that's my considered take on these mystic, "secret ladder" things :) )

Leonard wanted more than prayers and faith; he wanted "experience of the Divine" and his poetry sometimes suggests he maybe got there...I hope he did...

That transcendent goal?
The Unified Hearts.
Two people in love, for sure.
The implication for my interest area, the mystic, being that the love of Leonard and the love of his G~d cannot unify without the loving action of his feminine soul. They need to leap the mountains of separation (Very Solomon) and it is Jacob's ladder, this soulful contemplation, Cruz suggests to Cohen, that brings about this leaping-spiritual consummation...Union...or, Holy Communion, termed "g~d by participation", by this Mystic Spanish Catholic Leonard quietly, yet clearly, admired; or he would not have included this "Dark Night" translation in this, his latest anthology of work.

There are other symbols utilised throughout the book but they are simply variations of a theme;
...flame, hearts in union, muse/soul, and the "secret ladder" (The Way)

If you are interested, take another look at the book, The Flame, and hunt some symbols/colophons down and note where they are used in relation to his poetry. Perhaps Leonard left us a little mystery and a few hints, it seems to me to be the case....

I'll say more on this staggeringly important poem later, as I am a lazy fellow sometimes and like Zorba says;
"I have so much to tell you" ............(g~d I love Zorba!)

... and also, I would not like to ruin your fun if you are into this Solomon/Leonard- soul-searching sort of plight!

(MatbellybuttongazerJ) Mat James.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: The Flame: The Lucky Night!!!!!

Post by mat james » Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:12 pm

7/2/19 (6:30 am)

On metaphor and light-bulb
Of course…of course…all words and expressed thoughts are merely metaphors; ways of alluding to a thought. Any story teller has to find a way to express what it is that is on their mind.
• A writer uses words
• A dancer uses movement
• A musician uses sound
• An artist, drawings
• A lover, touch
• A feeder, food
• A herbalist, scents
• A wine-maker…Spirit!
…and so the stories by metaphor unfold and evolve into books and performance and arousal and feasting and water is changed into wine…and loving companionship; this is all experience, yet by talking about it, it is all metaphor.
Out of the darkness came the light…metaphor
In the beginning was the word…metaphor
Soul is feminine, a beautiful woman…metaphor
I am the Lily of the valley, the Rose of Sharon…metaphor
Water changed to wine…metaphor
I am Who AM…that thou art…tell them the I AM has sent you…metaphor
I AM …the simplest of metaphors
It is as though a metaphor is a switch; flick it one way and there is light…flick it the other way and there is darkness…and more than that, there is an impulse to flick!
Like all products of culture, all traditions, Leonard is all metaphor.
When that switch is off and there is no forthcoming metaphor… no light, no darkness and no switch; what then?
This is the place where Leonard so often finds himself, as exemplified in this book, The Flame; and he cries his primal metaphor… “and you want it darker?”

Fall-back “Position”
Metaphorical darkness (not knowing) is his psychological fall-back position and one of the ”Various Positions” his mind may find itself in. He may be longing and lost or he may be longing and found. These lows and highs of life, of course are expressed in his artistic outpourings which we so enjoy.
Now all this is obvious but it needs to be said as I want to go back to that switch and that impulse to move it……………………………………………… …….. …….. …

The other major Spanish mystic, contemporary and mentor of Cruz, Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), says in her poem, I would cease to be:
“…god dissolved my mind, my separation”
and writing of this transcendent moment Cruz describes as “Lost among the lilies” and Cohen describes as, “ We spread and drown as lilies do, forever and forever” . ... index.html
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: The Flame: The Lucky Night!!!!!

Post by mat james » Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:45 pm

Verse 5

Cruz' Dark Night is an 8 verse poem.
Cohen’s “The Lucky Night!!!” is a 9 verse poem.
With 4 verses above and 4 verses below, Cohen places his own totally original verse smack in the middle of his translation as verse 5.
He makes it his poem too.
Interestingly, Cruz wrote about 500 pages explaining the meaning of the first 3 verses of his poem, The Dark Night…and he only got to the end of verse 3! After that there are no more records of how he explained the remaining 5 of the 8 verses. It is odd, but he wrote 2 different books and both books, though very different, only explain the meaning up to the end of verse 3…
Cohen has added his genius to the mix and done a bit of his own explaining by adding that additional 5th verse:

“And then the night commands me
To enter in her side
And be as Adam is to Eve
Before they need divide”

So Cohen has joined Cruz in Cruz' poem; and in a zen-sense has become Cruz, as the archer becomes the arrow.

It is Cohen’s way of saying, perhaps, that the Lovers metaphor (Lover and Beloved) went back to the first couple in his tradition (Genesis); to the original couple when not yet separated, when Eve was yet to be created from Adam's rib.
In this 5th stanza, Cohen makes Eve, metaphorically speaking, Adam’s soul. He is suggesting to Jacob, Solomon and Cruz and anyone else interested (his fans, perhaps) to go back even farther in their Biblical Landscape; right back to the beginning in Eden where the Hebrew G~d caused the soul to separate from Adam. (Eve was made from Adam's rib) Cohen is suggesting to me that that soul/lovers-metaphor goes right back to the beginning…so he adds this new stanza, verse 5, to explain this cognition of his.

( As an aside or an extension; those Psychologists Carl Jung and Eric Neumann would no doubt argue that this then makes the Adam and Eve story a tale of the coming of consciousness, where ego separates from the unconscious via the heart (beneath the rib)..."matters of the heart"... :D )

Cohen sang, “I’m the little Jew who wrote the Bible” and in a way he may be saying that now he has understood this process of metaphors and parables and such,contemplating the Biblical Stories on this level, he feels at one with all the authors of his tribal text; both the Jewish/Hebrew authors and some Buddhist, Hindu and Christian authors also, like these Spanish Mystics above
...his final words to a friend in an email text, “Blessed are the peace makers”…a Christian quote, as I understand it.
"Blessed are the peace-makers", and the next line is... "for they shall see G~d"...

Perhaps he was after all (with rib healed and "Beloved and Lover" re-united) “the little Jew who wrote the Bible”.... with his own Eve (his soul) whispering "sweetly" to him of her divine adventures...

... while tucked in safely, back inside his heart...

...I hope so...

Mat James
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: The Flame: The Lucky Night!!!!!

Post by mat james » Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:45 pm

Antipodean Tangents

Leonard's poem "The Lucky Night!!!!!" took me back to Adam and Eve and Leonard Coen's search for meaning and longing for Unity and his affiliations with others "traveling light".
My other reading has taken me to other places and I add this generalised summary below as food for thought for those interested in the common roots of religions and humanity. My reference book for the below opinion piece is a paper written by T.G.H. Strehlow, titled "Central Australian Religion, Personal Monototemism in a Polytotemic Community."
Strehlow claims, "Nowhere were the links between human Time and changeless Eternity stronger in religious thought than in Central Australia..." (Arunta Religion)

I'm making a big call here, but, I think Leonard would have enjoyed this Arunta perspective which I have rounded off with considerable liberty, below.

Of repaired ribs and Two Trees
The two trees of Eden ("good and evil" and "immortality")in genesis exist also in the Origin stories of India and also in Arunta Culture (Central Australian Aboriginal).

In each of the above cultural stories there are “two trees” firmly rooted to the origin Myths and the trees were the same (symbolic meaning) in each myth, and they are:

The tree of Mortality (good and evil, the world of the opposites, Life on Earth and Mortal, space-time)

The tree of Immortality. (everlasting life, gods like us, Burning Bush, Nirvana, eternal Dreamtime, pre-big-bang, Void, Einstein's {1=m(c x c) /e}..., and so on... )

In each religion (science) above, the tree of mortality was a perspective on this life we live now; and the tree of immortality was about the life we live eternally.
And transcendental warriors like Leonard Cohen, Juan de la Cruz, Einstein and others were always trying to get from one tree to the other... and back; and if they manage to do it successfully then we call them “Mystics”, particularly if they tell us about it poetically!

Of roots, branches and trees:
We know there was a fig-leaf mentioned in Genesis but there is no mention of a fig tree. However in the Indian origin stories there are also those two sacred trees (mortal and immortal) and both trees are fig trees. Buddha himself (along with other enlightened Seers) received his enlightenment while sitting under a fig tree; a Peepul: "Bodhi Tree of Enlightenment". So perhaps the origins stories of Eden and India have similar "roots"…

And then, if we go back a further 30,000 or 40,000 years we find in Australia an origins story of two trees also, both Melaleuca’s but different varieties; one large and one small... but not figs… :) So the Arunta trees are a different species from the Indian and Genesis trees but the story associated with the two trees is the same; symbols of the Mortal and the Immortal.
Both Fig trees and Melaleuca trees are food sources and therefore have totemic (spiritual) significance from an
Australian Arunta perspective, as I understand things. The Melaleuca tree produces seeds from which the Arunta people make unleavened bread...and have done so for 40,000 years! This tree also provides the Arunta with material for boomerangs and other weapons and witchetty grubs (moth larvae), another treasured food source of Aboriginal Australians.
And this is where things get really fascinating for not only are there two trees in this Arunta Eden, there are also two souls for each person.

Two Souls:
In Arunta Religion a human being has two souls, one mortal and one immortal, one born of the flesh via the parents and one born of the Spirit via the Earth; the totemic Spirit of their conception site, as determined by their mother. The mortal soul is born at one’s birth and, sadly, dies at one’s death. The immortal soul enters the mother as she walks or touches the earth at the time when she realises that she is pregnant…and that place where she first “feels” pregnant is the most sacred ground for that child she is carrying. It is that child's ultimate Sacred Site. It is his or her entry point to and from Eternity; their “Burning Bush” sacred site, so to speak; their eternal totemic spirit’s opportunity for another go at mortal life. And they conduct ceremonies at these sites on special occasions to re-enter eternity during this mortal life.
The Arunta story explains that the tree of mortality “leans on” the tree of immortality.
Mortality exists, for the Arunta because of the existence of immortality…in Eternity. And all this and more is what we know as " Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime".
The Arunta have the right to become “gods like us” (genesis) so to speak providing they are initiated according to totemic clan and custom and each totemic group has its own set of secret stories and objects (churinga) which hold a sort of "copy write"; and the more important stories are generally not to be shared or stolen with or by other totemic groups…the punishment for this unforgivable sacrilege, is death.

I suggest that to the Arunta people, the “burning bush” story of Moses would be considered to belong to a particular totemic group. And each totem has its own sacred stories equivalent to that of the “burning bush” of Moses. But the story would belong to Moses and his initiated totemic decedents....and nobody else!
The Arunta celebrate difference and in fact demand difference. There is no scope for national or even tribal megalomaniacs in their social system. An Arunta man's ultimate loyalty and duty was to his immortal totemic spirit; that which he came from and that which he returns to; and becomes one again with.
His mortal spirit, however, along with his family ties die along with the death of his body. This is the great sadness of life in the Arunta religious landscape. Death for the individual person is final, and only the Eternal Totemic Spirit re-incarnates...mortality is simply an opportunity for the Immortal Soul to experience time and space.
Divine Oneness is a double-edged boomerang and rather disconcerting to the frail human ego in each of us... about various positions on faith! ...and "fear and trembling"... Who wouldn't be concerned?

or, as Leonard so sadly and achingly puts it in the final worrying words of his song, "Traveling Light", on The Darker Album:

"...must I forget the things I knew..." ?

"...But if the road
Leads back to you
Must I forget
The things I knew...

When I was friends
With one or two
Traveling light like
We used to do...

I'm traveling light" (Loenard Cohen)

With thoughts/positions/perspectives like this, it is no wonder Leonard occasionally got depressed.


Various (oscillating) Positions of the mind:
Leonard's work suggests to me that the biblical Satan, Reason, does this to a mind. It cleverly and effectively uses logical scepticism to defeat a faith in love. Mindful Reason, though a handy tool, too often takes us in the end to a space where we don't want to be; as Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor so cleverly does in Brothers Karamazov.
Yet, for those who are also governed by the Heart, and not just the head, it seems better, healthier, at some point, to stop that (swinging monkey-mind as the Buddhists call it) thinking and put Reason to sleep for accept and intuit the impulse of the heart and just "kiss" the...soul...
...g~d...enemy...screaming infant...just love it to peace and pacify one's own traumatised inner infant with that Alyosha "kiss".

These are "matters of the heart" as Leonard puts it from a positive "position".

A Yes!, to "ambiguity"
Ironically, the Leonard-Logic of this record of thoughts in The Flame (Book) suggests to me that we need to keep hope active and alive in the background somewhere; as we walk on through our dark nights "...and embrace what Cohen calls "the wounded dawn" ...for it is this transitory interface between light and darkness that colours and often enriches the genie in our bottled mind.

...and without light or guide, save that which burns in my heart... Cruz on
and "Flame" on, as our inspirational friend Leonard did.
accept and embrace the ambiguous nature of the struggle;

It seems "a better way..." (Cohen)

So says The Flame of Juan and Lenny,
from staggering lives
of wounded dawns
and Lucky Nights
of poetry,
to this sauntering Antipodean;

...the-that's all folks;
thanks for paddling in my shiloh-pond
................................................Mat James.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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