Like everybody else, I bowed my head at Mass during the consecration of the bread and wine, lifted my eyes to the raised host and the raised chalice. I believed (whatever it means) that a change occurred: I went to the altar rails and received the mystery on my tongue, returned to my place, shut my eyes fast, made an act of thanksgiving, opened my eyes and felt time starting up again. It was phenomenally refreshing and, when I began to admit to myself that I was losing faith in it, I was very sorry. Intellectually speaking the loss of faith occurred offstage, there was never a scene where I had it out with myself or with another. But the potency of those words remains for me, they retain an undying tremor and draw; I cannot disavow them. Nor can I make the act of faith. In ‘Station Island,’ I arranged for John of the Cross to help my unbelief by translating his ‘Song of the Soul that Knows God by Faith.’

Seamus Heaney,
Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney, Dennis O’ Driscoll
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), 234

Song of the Soul that Knows God by Faith

How well I know that fountain, filling, running,
although it is the night.

That eternal fountain, hidden away,
I know its haven and its secrecy
although it is the night.

But not its source because it does not have one,
which is all sources’ source and origin
although it is the night.

No other thing can be so beautiful,
Here the earth and heaven drink their fill
although it is the night.

So pellucid it can never be muddied,
and I know that all light radiates from it
although it is the night.

I know no sounding line can find its bottom,
nobody ford or plumb its deepest fathom
although it is the night

And its current so in flood it overspills
to water hell and heaven and all peoples
although it is the night.

And the current that is generated there,
as far as it wills to, it can flow that far
although it is the night.

And from these two a third current proceeds
which neither of these two, I know, precedes
although it is the night.

This eternal fountain hides and splashes
within this living bread that is life to us
although it is the night.

Hear it calling out to every creature.
And they drink these waters, although it is dark here
because it is the night.

I am repining for this living fountain.
Within this bread of life I see it plain
although it is the night.

Station Island, XI