translated from the Spanish by Joan Larkin and Jaime Manrique
Love opened a mortal wound.
In agony, I worked the blade
to make it deeper. Please,
I begged, let death come quick.
Wild, distracted, sick,
I counted, counted
all the ways love hurt me.
One life, I thought—a thousand deaths.
Blow after blow, my heart
couldn’t survive this beating.
Then—how can I explain it?
I came to my senses. I said,
Why do I suffer? What lover
ever had so much pleasure?
Con el Dolor de la Mortal Herida
Con el dolor de la mortal herida,
de un agravio de amor me lamentaba;
y por ver si la muerte se llegaba,
procuraba que fuese más crecida.
Toda en el mal el alma divertida,
pena por pena su dolor sumaba,
y en cada circunstancia ponderaba
que sobraban mil muertes a una vida.
Y cuando, al golpe de uno y otro tiro,
rendido el corazón daba penoso
señas de dar el último suspiro,
no sé con qué destino prodigioso
volví en mi acuerdo y dije:—¿Qué me admiro?
¿Quién en amor ha sido más dichoso?
From Sor Juana’s Love Poems, translated by Joan Larkin and Jaime Manrique. Copyright © 2003. Reprinted with permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. All rights reserved. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 4, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
I measure every Grief I meet With narrow, probing, eyes – I wonder if It weighs like Mine – Or has an Easier size. I wonder if They bore it long – Or did it just begin – I could not tell the Date of Mine – It feels so old a pain – I wonder if it hurts to live – And if They have to try – And whether – could They choose between – It would not be – to die – I note that Some – gone patient long – At length, renew their smile – An imitation of a Light That has so little Oil – I wonder if when Years have piled – Some Thousands – on the Harm – That hurt them early – such a lapse Could give them any Balm – Or would they go on aching still Through Centuries of Nerve – Enlightened to a larger Pain – In Contrast with the Love – The Grieved – are many – I am told – There is the various Cause – Death – is but one – and comes but once – And only nails the eyes – There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold – A sort they call "Despair" – There's Banishment from native Eyes – In sight of Native Air – And though I may not guess the kind – Correctly – yet to me A piercing Comfort it affords In passing Calvary – To note the fashions – of the Cross – And how they're mostly worn – Still fascinated to presume That Some – are like my own –
Poetry used by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Ralph W. Franklin ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.