poem 174

[Although in vain, she wishes to convert the sufferings of a jealous man
to a rational process.]

What’s this, Alcino? How could your good sense
allow its own defeat by jealousy,
and show the world, in wild extremes of rage,
this spectacle of one gone mad or worse?
Now how has Celia hurt you, if she grieves?
Again, why do you blame Love of deceit
if he has never promised, for all his power,
lasting possession of such loveliness?
Our possession of temporal things
is temporal, my friend; it is abuse
to wish to guard them always as they were.
Your ignorance or your error I accuse,
because both Fate and Love, of things like these,
have given us not ownership, but use.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

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poem 166

She resolves the question of which
be the more trying role in conflicting
relationships: to love or to abhor

That Fabio does not love me, though adored,
is grief unmatched by any I have known,
a lesser hurt, though no less bothersome,
is that Silvio loves me, he in turn abhorred.
What patience, sorely tried, would not deplore,
what ringing ear, assaulted, not bemoan,
the ever-plaintive sighs of one disowned,
the arrogance of a vain conqueror.
If I am bored by Silvio’s submission,
it bores Fabio to tears that I submit;
if from Fabio I forever court permission,
Silvio seeks from me what I permit;
if dual torment is to be my one condition,
both of loving and being loved I would be quit.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

poem 165

Which recounts how fantasy contents itself
with honorable love

Stay, shadow of contentment too short-lived,
illusion of enchantment I most prize,
fair image for whom happily I die,
sweet fiction for whom painfully I live.
If answering your charms’ imperative,
compliant, I like steel to magnet fly,
by what logic do you flatter and entice,
only to flee, a taunting fugitive?
‘Tis no triumph that you so smugly boast
that I fell victim to your tyranny;
though from encircling bonds that held you fast
your elusive form too readily slipped free,
and though to my arms you are forever lost,
you are a prisoner in my fantasy.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

poem 164

She answers suspicions in the rhetoric of tears

My love, this evening when I spoke with you,
and in your face and actions I could read
that arguments of words you would not heed,
my heart I longed to open to your view.
In this intention, Love my wishes knew
and, though they seemed impossible, achieved:
pouring in tears that sorrow had conceived,
with every beat my heart dissolved anew.
Enough of suffering, my love, enough:
let jealousy’s vile tyranny be banned,
let no suspicious thought your calm corrupt
with foolish gloom by futile doubt enhanced,
for now, this afternoon, you saw and touched
my heart, dissolved and liquid in your hands.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

poem 161 (III)

Inés, dear, with your love I am enraptured,
and as object of your love, I am enthralled
when gazing on your beauty I am captured,
but when I find you jealous, want to bawl.
I die of jealousy if others you entangle,
I tremble at your grace, your step sublime,
because I know, Inés, that you could mangle,
the humors of my systematic chyme.
When I hold your dainty hand, I am aquiver,
in your anger, feel that I must soon expire,
if you venture from your home I am adither,
so I say, Inés, to one thing I aspire,
that your love and my good wine will draw you hither,
and to tumble you to bed I can conspire.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

*One of five burlesque sonnets in which the poetess was circumscribed
by rhymes which had been determined; composed in a moment of relaxation

poem 151

She distrusts, as disguised cruelty,
the solace offered by hope

Oh, malady of Hope, your persistence
sustains the passing of my weary years,
while measuring my wishes and my fears
your balances maintain equivalence;
deceitfully, and with what indolence,
the pans begin to tip, but as change nears
invariably your parity adheres:
despair is counterpoised by confidence.
Still, Murderess is how you must be known,
for Murderess you are, when it is owned
how between a fate of happiness or strife
my soul has hung suspended far too long;
you do not act thus to prolong my life
but, rather, that in life death be prolonged.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

poem 149

She weighs the difficulties of electing a way of life
that must last until death

With all the hazards of the sea in mind,
no one would set sail; if in advance
the dangers were foreseen, no one would dare
so much as taunt the mad bull in the ring.
If the prudent rider were to weigh
the unleashed fury of a pounding beast
set free to race, we would not see
anyone set a skilled hand to the reins.
But if one showed such brave audacity
as, despite the peril, to aspire
to take in hand the blazing chariot
of the great god Apollo, drenched in light:
that one would do it all, not simply choose
a way of life that must endure till death.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz