You Foolish Men

- 1651-1695

You foolish men who lay
the guilt on women,
not seeing you're the cause
of the very thing you blame;

if you invite their disdain
with measureless desire
why wish they well behave
if you incite to ill.

You fight their stubbornness,
then, weightily,
you say it was their lightness
when it was your guile.

In all your crazy shows
you act just like a child
who plays the bogeyman
of which he's then afraid.

With foolish arrogance
you hope to find a Thais
in her you court, but a Lucretia
when you've possessed her.

What kind of mind is odder
than his who mists
a mirror and then complains
that it's not clear.

Their favour and disdain
you hold in equal state,
if they mistreat, you complain,
you mock if they treat you well.

No woman wins esteem of you:
the most modest is ungrateful
if she refuses to admit you;
yet if she does, she's loose.

You always are so foolish
your censure is unfair;
one you blame for cruelty
the other for being easy.

What must be her temper
who offends when she's
ungrateful and wearies
when compliant?

But with the anger and the grief
that your pleasure tells
good luck to her who doesn't love you
and you go on and complain.

Your lover's moans give wings
to women's liberty:
and having made them bad,
you want to find them good.

Who has embraced
the greater blame in passion?
She who, solicited, falls,
or he who, fallen, pleads?

Who is more to blame,
though either should do wrong?
She who sins for pay
or he who pays to sin?

Why be outraged at the guilt
that is of your own doing?
Have them as you make them
or make them what you will.

Leave off your wooing
and then, with greater cause,
you can blame the passion
of her who comes to court?

Patent is your arrogance
that fights with many weapons
since in promise and insistence
you join world, flesh and devil.

More by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Suspend, Singer Swan

Suspend, singer swan, the sweet strain:
see how the lord that Delphi sees
exchanges for you the gentle lyre for pipe
and to Admetus makes a pastoral sound.

As gentle song, though strong, moved
stones and tamed the wrath of hell,
so it retreats, abashed, when you are heard:
your instrument blames the church itself.

For though the works of ancient builders
cannot match its columns, 
nothing's greater than your song 

when your clear voice strikes its stones,
and your sweet tones surpass it,
dwarf it, while making it grow the more.

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.

Let me not die of harshness, Fabio,
when I can die of love.
That will do you credit,
redeem me, since to die for love,
not for guilt, is no less a death,
but more an honoured one.

And now, finally, I seek your pardon
for all the wrongs I did to you through love.
Wrongs they are and they deserve your scorn.
Your offence is just in my accosting you,
because by loving you 
I turn you to ingratitude.

Love Opened a Mortal Wound / Con el dolor de la mortal herida

(Skip to the original poem in Spanish)

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 moral 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 sobrarban 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?