You Foolish Men
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.
Copyright © 2004 by Michael Smith. Reprinted by permission of the translator and Shearsman Books Ltd.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Born on November 12, 1651, Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez would eventually become a nun and a poet known as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
Date Published: 2004-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/you-foolish-men