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CRUZ, Sor Juana Inès de la

I approach and I withdraw

I approach, and I withdraw:

who but I could find

absence in the eyes,

presence in what's far?

From the scorn of Phyllis,

now, alas, I must depart.

One is indeed unhappy

who misses even scorn!

So caring is my love

that my present distress

minds hard-heartedness less

than the thought of its loss.

Leaving, I lose more

than what is merely mine:

in Phyllis, never mine,

I lose what can't be lost.

Oh, pity the poor person

who aroused such kind disdain

that to avoid giving pain,

it would grant no favor!

For, seeing in my future

obligatory exile,

she disdained me the more,

that the loss might be less.

Oh, where did you discover

so neat a tactic, Phyllis:

denying to disdain

the garb of affection?

To live unobserved

by your eyes, I now go

where never pain of mine

need flatter your disdain.

Sonnet 184

Amor empieza por desasosiego,
solicitud, ardores y desvelos;
crece con riesgos, lances y recelos;
susténtase de llantos y de ruego.

Doctrínanle tibiezas y despego,
conserva el ser entre engañosos velos,
hasta que con agravios o con celos
apaga con sus lágrimas su fuego.

Sonnet 184

Love begins with unease,

supplications, ardor and insomnia;

It increases with risks, quarrels and rejections;

It feeds on tears and pleads

Indifference and coolness instruct it;

Love remains itself amid cloudy veils,

until, with insults or with jealousy,

it quenches its own fire wit hits own tears.

Pues estoy condenada

Pues estoy condenada,
Fabio, a la muerte, por decreto tuyo,
y la sentencia airada
ni la apelo, resisto ni la huyo,
óyeme, que no hay reo tan culpado
a quien el confesar le sea negado.

Porque te han informado,
dices, de que mi pecho te ha ofendido,
me has, fiero, condenado.
¿Y pueden, en tu pecho endurecido
más la noticia incierta, que no es ciencia,
que de tantas verdades la experiencia?

Si a otros crédito has dado,
Fabio, ¿por qué a tus ojos se lo niegas,
y el sentido trocado
de la ley, al cordel mi cuello entregas,
pues liberal me amplías los rigores
y avaro me restringes los favores?

Si a otros ojos he visto,
mátenme, Fabio, tus airados ojos;
si a otro cariño asisto,
asístanme implacables tus enojos;
y si otro amor del tuyo me divierte,
tú, que has sido mi vida, me des muerte.

Si a otro, alegre, he mirado,
nunca alegre me mires ni te vea;
si le hablé con agrado,
eterno desagrado en ti posea;
y si otro amor inquieta mi sentido,
sáquesme el alma tú, que mi alma has sido.

Mas, supuesto que muero,
sin resistir a mi infelice suerte,
que me des sólo quiero
licencia de que escoja yo mi muerte;
deja la muerte a mi elección medida,
pues en la tuya pongo yo la vida.

Since I’m Condemned

Since I’m condemned to death

by your decree, Fabio,

and don’t appeal, resist or flee

the wrathful judgment, hear me,

for there’s no culprit of such guilt

should be refused confession.

Because, you say, you’ve been informed

my breast has caused offence to you,

I stand condemned, ferocious one.

Does uncertain news, not fact,

achieve more in your obdurate breast

than experience of so many truths?

If you’ve believed in others’, Fabio,

why not believe in your own eyes?

Why, reversing the sense of Law,

deliver to the rope my neck?

You’re as liberal with your rigours

as meanly strict with favours.

If I have looked at other eyes, Fabio,

kill me with your wrathful eyes.

If I serve another care,

let your implacable anger serve me.

And if another’s love diverts me,

you, who’ve been my life, strike me dead.

If I have viewed another with delight,

never be delight in our mutual looks;

if with another I engaged in pleasant speech,

let your eternal displeasure point at me.

And if another love disturbs my sense,

chase out of me my soul, who’ve been my soul.

But as I die without resisting

my unhappy lot, my only wish

is you allow me choose the death I like.

Let my death be of my choice,

for your mere choice

continues me in life.

El Sueño / The Dream

Nature lifts and lowers
one, and then the other, of her pans,
distributing her several chores—now
restful leisure, now gainful activity—
on the imbalanced balance with which she
rules the world’s complex machinery

Man, in sum, the greatest marvel
posed to human comprehension,
a synthesis composed
of qualities of angel, plant, and beast,
whose elevated baseness
shows traits of each of these. 


To Her Portrait

This that you see, the false presentment planned

With finest art and all the colored shows

And reasonings of shade, doth but disclose

The poor deceits by earthly senses fanned!

Here where in constant flattery expand

Excuses for the stains that old age knows,

Pretexts against the years' advancing snows,

The footprints of old seasons to withstand;

'Tis but vain artifice of scheming minds;

'Tis but a flower fading on the winds;

'Tis but a useless protest against Fate;

'Tis but stupidity without a thought,

A lifeless shadow, if we meditate;

'Tis death, tis dust, tis shadow, yea, 'tis nought.