The Poems of St. John of the Cross, translated by Ken Krabbenhoft, disappoints on two levels: the work itself and the translation.
More than half the work consists of paraphrases of or embellishments on the Scriptures: Cántico espiritual (Spiritual canticle)makes a hash of the Song of Solomon; En una noche oscura (On a dark night), also imitative of the Song of Solomon, is a bit more graceful but still falls short; Encima de las corrientes (By the rivers of Babylon) is a paraphrase of Psalm 137; En el principio moraba (In the beginning was the Word) is an enlargement upon the first verses of the Gospel of John, overlaid with a rather fanciful conversation between God the Father and God the Son, and a highly idealized interpretation of the Bride of Christ.
There are original poems but they are slight, abstracted and pedestrian. Not a single one has a well-turned phrase or mature insight.
It is difficult for me to say how much of the foregoing criticism should be attributed to the work of the translator, Ken Krabbenhoft. My Spanish is rudimentary and weak, but even I can tell that none of the musicality of the original comes through.
I cannot recommend this book to anyone wanting to deepen his relationship with God or to enlarge his understanding of spiritual matters. Even as a work of literature, the Bible is a far richer source than this slender volume. I'm returning it today.