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

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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 148

Better death than suffer the affronts
of growing old

In the gardens, Celia gazed upon a rose
that candid in its haughty ostentation,
and bright in tints of scarlet and rich crimson,
joyfully its fragile face exposed,
and said: ,,Enjoy the day, fear not the blows
of Fate in this too fleeting celebration,
the death that on the morrow claims its portion,
cannot take from you the joys this day bestows;
though the perfume of life fade on the air,
and the hour of your passing too soon toll,
fear not the death that finds you young and fair:
take the counsel that experience extols,
to die while beautiful is finer far
than to suffer the affront of growing old.”

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

poem 146

She laments her fortune, she hints of her aversion to all vice,
and justifies her diversion with the Muses

In my pursuit, World, why such diligence?
What my offense, when I am thus inclined,
insuring elegance affect my mind,
not that my mind affect an elegance?
I have no love of riches or finance,
and thus do I most happily, I find,
expend finances to enrich my mind
and not mind expend upon finance.
I worship beauty not, but vilify
that spoil of time that mocks eternity,
nor less, deceitful treasures glorify,
but hold foremost, with greatest constancy,
consuming all the vanity in life,
and not consuming life in vanity.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz