Mystical Poetry: Definition, Types and Main Authors

The Mystical poetry Is that which expresses the spiritual union between the whole of humanity and God. It arose in the second half of the sixteenth century when, after the internal inconveniences in the Catholic Church by the Protestant Reformation, the religious lyric was separated between the ascetic and mystical.

While ascetic poetry centers its efforts on the spirit to achieve moral and ethical perfection, mysticism tries to express the wonders that the privileged experience in their own soul when entering into communion with God.

Mystical poetry

The word mystic has its origin in the Greek verb myein-encerrar, which defines a complex and difficult to achieve practice, with the aim of achieving the union of the human soul with the sacred.

The Royal Spanish Academy, for its part, defines the mystic as:"An extraordinary state of religious perfection, which consists essentially in a certain ineffable union of the soul with God by love, and is accidentally accompanied by ecstasy and revelations."

Thus mystical poetry is a form of expression of a life of secret spiritual perfection, away from the ordinary, in close connection with supernatural experiences.

In this sense, it is God who elevates people (and poets) to a place above natural limitations, where they manage to enter into a higher sense experience.

Broadly speaking, mysticism permeates all religions, but it has a greater influence on monotheistic beliefs, such as Catholicism, Judaism and Islam, among others, and not so much in the religions that practice it. polytheism .

In order to enter into the mystical field, and to achieve union with the divinity, we must cross paths like the purgative, which consists in cleaning the soul through prayer; The illuminating and the unitive.

Forms of mystical poetry

It is considered that the mystic is infallible reason why the authors resort to the mystical poetry to express itself. In turn, this type of genre has different forms although it is simple and simple verse, its most cultivated format.

Its contents deal with human love and the beautiful experience that believers awaken and reach after reaching communion with God. This experience does not depend on man but only on God. In this sense, the author is only a means of expression.

Types of Christian mystical poetry

It is complex to make a finished classification of the mystical poetry of Christianity, because being a transcendental experience of the human being can be expressed in a different way according to each writer.

Thus, it is possible to approach only the mystical poetry that reflects the experiences of Christianity, leaving aside the expressions proper to other religions, to summarize their field of action in three great schools.

The first, refers to Germanic mysticism, in which it stands out Hildegarda from Bingen As main reference. This current manifests a mystical monastic leader, prophetess and physician.

De Bingen was one of the most fascinating personalities of his time and left an extensive and venerated work.

Another is the Italian mystic whose main exponent in San Francisco de Asis , Which had a large group of writers who prophesied on diverse subjects.

Finally, the most widespread, the Spanish mystic, with St. John of the Cross as protagonist, which had a strong rise in the sixteenth century by the tension with Protestantism.

With a marked eclectic character, it was one of the last mystical literary expressions to appear and is considered the conclusion of the mystical tradition of Christianity in the West.

Top authors

One of the most renowned and outstanding authors of the mystical poetry was San Juan de la Cruz, a religious of the Renaissance who lived in Spain between 1542 and 1591.

Co-founder of Order of the Discalced Carmelites , Is considered patron of Spanish poets since 1952 and conceived of his experience as a transcendence of the whole, where total love for God and creation lead to higher feelings of life.

San Juan de la Cruz was imprisoned a few months for his ideals and it was there that he wrote much of his Spiritual chanting , His most outstanding work.

With explanatory prose, this author left behind a large legacy that was of great influence after his death, in 1591.

His works can be divided into major and minor. Among the first are Dark night, Spiritual chant and Flame of living love , While among the second appear a dozen glosses, romances and songs.

Another of the poetesses who marked the mysticism is Santa Teresa of Avila, also call Santa Teresa de Jesus. Founder of the Discalced Carmelites, is one of the main and most outstanding references of the spiritual life of the Catholic Church.

Victim of devastating physical and health problems, St. Teresa of Avila dedicated her life to faith and mystical poetry, with an easy, ardent and passionate style.

His love in God is expressed in his work, in which he stands out a vehement imagination and concrete prose.

Its literary legacy left a great influence, was translated to diverse languages ​​and languages ​​and its name appears in the catalog of authorities of the language published by Real Academia Española.

Prolific in its activity, left almost a thousand writings, among which letters, poems and works such as: Way of Perfection, Concepts of God's Love Y The interior castle, Life of St. Teresa of Jesus (a kind of autobiography), the Book of Relationships, the Book of Foundations Y The Book of the Constitutions.

His life and work were taken to the movies and television with almost a dozen films of great mystical content.


  1. Helmut Hatzfeld, The constituent elements of my poetry Stica , Virtual Library Miguel de Cervantes, 2016.

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