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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In Memoriam: Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1648 – 1695)

Salud, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, y a tu memoria, porque entendiste que para leer libremente, para pensar, para dejarse llevar por el Conocimiento, era necesario someterse al confin de una celda, Salud!

Hail, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, and your memory, because you understood that in order to read freely, to think, to allow yourself to be carried away by Knowledge, it was necessary to be confined in a cell, Hail to you!


Dime vencedor Rapaz,
vencido de mi constancia,
¿Qué ha sacado tu arrogancia
de alterar mi firme paz?
Que aunque de vencer capaz
es la punta de tu arpón,
¿qué importa el tiro violento,
si a pesar del vencimiento
queda viva la razón?

Tienes grande señorío;
pero tu jurisdicción
domina la inclinación,
mas no pasa el albedrío.
Y así librarme confío
de tu loco atrevimiento,
pues aunque rendida siento
y presa la libertad,
se rinde la voluntad
pero no el consentimiento.

En dos partes dividida
tengo el alma en confusión:
una, esclava a la pasión,
y otra, a la razón medida.
Guerra civil, encendida,
aflige el pecho importuna:
quiere vencer cada una,
y entre fortunas tan varias,
morirán ambas contrarias
pero vencerá ninguna.

Cuando fuera, Amor, te vía,
no merecí de ti palma;
y hoy, que estás dentro del alma,
es resistir valentía.
Córrase, pues, tu porfía,
de los triunfos que te gano:
pues cuando ocupas, tirano,
el alma, sin resistillo,
tienes vencido el Castillo
e invencible el Castellano.

Invicta razón alienta
armas contra tu vil saña,
y el pecho es corta campaña
a batalla tan sangrienta.
Y así, Amor, en vano intenta
tu esfuerzo loco ofenderme:
pues podré decir, al verme
expirar sin entregarme,
que conseguiste matarme
mas no pudiste vencerme.

The following is an English translation of the above poem by Beulah Limosneros, obtained from the web.

Ascendent Raptor speak...

Ascendent Raptor - speak,
victor yet vanquished by my constancy,
what has your arrogance won
from its siege against my steadfast peace?
For though your lance's barb
be sharp to pierce
the hardest heart,
what point has the most violent cast - if,
finding its mark,
sweet reason clings yet to the target?

You hold great sway, Lord,
but though your dominion
obtains against our inclination
it masters not our liberty.
And thus to this I trust as my ransom
from the madness of your audacity:
for while my freedom
is held captive, under siege,
my discretion might be yielded,
but never my consentment.

My soul is cleft
confusedly in twain.
Half - a thrall to passion,
the other - reason's slave.
Civil war, inflamed, importunate
afflicts this breast:
each strives to overwhelm his counterpart;
but amidst such mutinous counterstorms,
both helmsmen must perish,
neither, return to port.

From the field, Love,
never once did I win the palm of your favour,
but now, with you lodged within,
denying you the trophy of my soul
calls for all my valour.
But then let that very resistance
drive out Love's heartless garrison!
- for when you, Tyrant,
invade the soul, without constraint,
you take as spoil the castle,
yet lose your hold over its chatelaine.

Invincible reason has now wrought
rebel arms to oppose your vicious rages;
even as the breast cedes scant terrain
for so bloody a battle.
And so, Love, you launch in vain
your insane onslaught:
since it will be said - to see me fall
yet not surrender -
that you managed to kill
but failed to conquer.

Translated by Beulah Limosneros