Sor Juana's Love Poems / Edition 1

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These exquisite love poems, some of them clearly addressed to women, were written by the visionary and passionate genius of Mexican letters, the seventeenth-century nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. In this volume they are translated into the idiom of our own time by poets Joan Larkin and Jaime Manrique. Some of them are rooted in Renaissance courtly conventions; others are startlingly ahead of their time, seemingly modern in the naked power of the complex sexual feelings they address.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299187040
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 84
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Joan Larkin has published the poetry collections Housework, A Long Sound, and Cold River. The editor of numerous anthologies, she is the recipient of two Lambda Literary Awards for Poetry. She teaches poetry writing at Sarah Lawrence and New England Colleges. Jaime Manrique is the author of the memoir Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press, the novels Twilight at the Equator, Latin Moon in Manhattan, and Colombian Gold, and two poetry collections, My Night with Federico García Lorca and Tarzan, My Body, Christopher Columbus. He lives in New York City and is an associate professor in the MFA program at Columbia University.

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Read an Excerpt


El hijo que la esclava ha concebido

A la Excma. Sra. Condesa de Paredes, Marquesa de
la Laguna, enviándole estos papeles que su Excia. le
pidió y que pudo recoger Sor Juana de muchas
manos, en que estaban no menos divididos que
escondidos, como tesoro, con otros que no cupo en
el tiempo buscarlos ni copiarlos

El hijo que la esclava ha concebido,
dice el Derecho que le pertenece
al legítimo dueño que obedece
la esclava madre, de quien es nacido.
El que retorna al campo agradecido,
opimo fruto, que obediente ofrece,
es del señor, pues si fecundo crece,
se lo debe al cultivo recibido.
Así, Lysi divina, estos borrones
que hijos del alma son, partos del pecho,
será razón que a ti te restituya;
y no lo impidan sus imperfecciones,
pues vienen a ser tuyos de derecho
los conceptos de una alma que es tan tuya.

Ama y Señora mía, besa los pies de V. Excia.,
su criada
Juana Inés de la Cruz

When a Slave Gives Birth

For the Most Excellent Señora Countess de
Paredes, Marquise de la Laguna, I enclose the
papers her Excellency asked for. These poems
were scattered among many people and hidden
like treasures. There were others Sor Juana had
no time to look for norcopy.

When a slave gives birth,
the Law says
her son belongs
to his mother's master.
When a harvest overflows,
fertile land thanks
with bountiful fruits
the lord who enriched the soil.
Divine Lysi, it's only fair that these lines—
children nursed at my breast—
be given back.
Flawed as they are,
I return them to their rightful owner,
creations of a soul that belongs to you.

My Mistress and Lady, your servant
kisses your Excellency's feet,
Juana Inés de la Cruz

Divina Lysi mía

Divina Lysi mía:
perdona si me atrevo
a llamarte así, cuando
aun de ser tuya el nombre no merezco.
Y creo, no osadía
es llamarte así, puesto
que a ti te sobran rayos,
si en mí pudiera haber atrevimientos.
Error es de la lengua,
que lo que dice imperio
del dueño, en el dominio,
parezcan posesiones en el siervo.
Mi rey, dice el vasallo;
mi cárcel, dice el preso;
y el más humilde esclavo,
sin agraviarlo, llama suyo al dueño.
Así, cuando yo mía
te llamo, no pretendo
que juzguen que eres mía,
sino sólo que yo ser tuya quiero.
Yo te vi; pero basta:
que a publicar incendios
basta apuntar la causa,
sin añadir la culpa del efecto.
Que mirarte tan alta,
no impide a mi denuedo;
que no hay Deidad segura
al altivo volar del pensamiento.
Y aunque otras más merezcan,
en distancia del Cielo
lo mismo dista el valle
más humilde, que el monte más soberbio.
En fin, yo de adorarte
el delito confieso;
si quieres castigarme,
este mismo castigo será premio.

My Divine Lysi

My divine Lysi:
forgive me for daring
to call you mine
when I'm not worthy to be called yours.
I refuse to believe
I've stepped out of line.
If calling you mine offends you,
strike me with lightning.
The tongue is mistaken
to say, These goods
belong to the lord of the manor
The serf is the real owner.
My king, says the subject.
My cell, says the prisoner.
It's no crime for the lowest slave
to call his master his.
When I say mine
I don't pretend
anyone thinks I own you,
only that I'm hungry to be yours.
I've seen you—that's all I'll say.
To expose dangerous thoughts,
all you have to do is point
to what started the fire.
You may be on a pedestal,
but you won't keep me from speaking.
Even a goddess isn't safe
from a mind that dares to soar.
Some may be worthier than others,
but low valley
and exalted peak
are the same distance from Heaven.
Yes, I confess
to the crime of adoring you.
Punish me if you like—
punishment from you would be a joy.
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Table of Contents

Foreword: Sor Juana and Love 9
When a Slave Gives Birth 13
My Divine Lysi 17
I Beg You, Senora 23
Don't Go, My Darling. I Don't Want This to End Yet 33
This Afternoon, My Darling, I Kept Talking 37
Love Opened a Mortal Wound 41
Look at Me, Alcino. See the Chain? 45
Have You Lost Your Mind, Alcino? 49
Inez, I Have to Gloat: You're Gorgeous 53
Inez, When Someone Tells You You're a Bitch 57
Portia, What Passion, What Blind Pain 61
Divine Laura, My Life Was Always Yours 65
Elegy: I. Drunk with Laura's Beauty 71
Elegy: II. Laura Split in Two Beautiful Halves 73
Elegy: III. Laura, Desire Dies with You 75
Afterword: Translating Sor Juana 77
About the Translators 82
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