Born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez near Ávila, Spain, the future saint showed an early aptitude for selfless service, beginning work as a teenager in a hospital for the infirm and impoverished in Medina del Campo. San Juan’s life and teaching underscore a rigorous asceticism, yet his poetry, while often tersely economical, is far from austere in its diction and imagery. “In his best lyrics every word tells”, Gerald Brenan observed (1973: xii). He professed to have attained a mystical, rapturous experience of God and divine love, and endeavoured to express something of that spiritual encounter in writing. To this end, his writing, in verse and prose, is autobiographical and exhortative: autobiographical, insofar as it professes to record his experiences, and exhortative, in that it…

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Citation: Fisher, Tyler. "San Juan de la Cruz". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 February 2018 [, accessed 15 June 2024.]

13151 San Juan de la Cruz 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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