Romance on Psalm 137

St. John of the Cross wrote this in response to Psalm 137. My friend Frank sent it to me in response to a post I wrote on artifacts at the British Museum. There is a longing-for-home in this poem which speaks to my uprooted soul, although I am confused as to which home it is for which I am longing. Perhaps it's Home-with-a-capital-H that this poem speaks of, longed for in some way by all creatures.

By the rivers
of Babylon
I sat down weeping,
there on the ground.
And remembering you,
O Zion, whom I loved,
in that sweet memory
I wept even more.
I took off my feastday clothes
and put on my working ones;
I hung on the green willows
all the joy I had in song,
putting it aside for that
which I hoped for in you.
There love wounded me
and took away my heart.
I begged love to kill me
since it had so wounded me;
I threw myself in its fire
knowing it burned,
excusing now the young bird
that would die in the fire.
I was dying in myself,
breathing in you alone.
I died within myself for you
and for you I revived,
because the memory of you
gave life and took it away.
The strangers among whom
I was captive rejoiced;
they asked me to sing
what I sang in Zion:
Sing us a song from Zion,
let's hear how it sounds.
I said: How can I sing,
in a strange land where I weep
for Zion, sing of the happiness
that I had there?
I would be forgetting her
if I rejoiced in a strange land.
May the tongue I speak with
cling to my palate
if I forget you
in this land where I am.
Zion, by the green branches
Babylon holds out to me,
may my right hand be forgotten
(that I so loved when home in you)
if I do not remember you,
my greatest joy,
or celebrate one feastday,
or feast at all without you.
O Daughter of Babylon,
miserable and wretched!
Blessed is he
in whom I have trusted,
for he will punish you
as you have me;
and he will gather his little ones
and me, who wept because of you,
at the rock who is Christ
for whom I abandoned you.

EDITED TO ADD: The only part of the poem that rubs me the wrong way is that Babylon is personified as a "daughter" whom the poet asks God to punish. However, I do not hold this against St. John -- he was in a long line of saints and theologians who personfied Babylon as a female -- and I hope you don't either.