Thursday 16 April 2009

April, Poetry Month - Excusándose de un Silencio... by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Please, scroll down for the English translation.

Excusándose de un Silencio...

Pedirte, señora, quiero

De mi silencio perdón,

Si lo que ha sido atención,

Le hace parecer grosero.

Y no me podrás culpar

Si hasta aquí mi proceder,

Por ocuparse en querer

Se ha olvidado de explicar.

Que en mi amorosa pasión

No fue descuido ni mengua

Quitar el uso a la lengua

Por dárselo al corazón.

Ni de explicarme dejaba,

Que como la pasión mía

Acá en el alma te hablaba

Y en esta idea notable

Dichosamente vivía;

Porque en mi mano tenía

El fingirte favorable.

Con traza tan peregrina

Vivió mi esperanza vana

Pues te puedo hacer humana

Concibiéndote divina.

¡Oh, cuan loco llegué a verme

en tus dichosos amores,

que aun fingidos tus favores

pudieron enloquecerme!

¡Oh, cómo en tu Sol hermoso

mi ardiente afecto encendido,

por cebarse en lo lúcido,

olvidó lo peligroso!

Perdona, si atrevimiento

Fue atreverme a tu ardor puro;

Que no hay Sagrado seguro

De culpas de pensamiento.

De esta manera engañaba

La loca esperanza mía,

Y dentro de mí tenía

Todo el bien que deseaba.

Mas ya tu precepto grave

Rompe mi silencio mudo;

Que él solamente ser pudo

De mi respeto la llave.

Y aunque el amar tu belleza

Es delito sin disculpa,

Castíguense la culpa

Primero que la tibieza.

No quieras, pues, rigurosa,

Que estando ya declarada,

Sea de veras desdichada

Quien fue de burlas dichosa.

Si culpas mi desacato,

Culpa también tu licencia;

Que si es mala mi obediencia,

No fue justo tu mandato.

Y si es culpable mi intento,

Será mi afecto preciso;

Porque es amarte un delito

De que nunca me arrepiento.

Esto en mis afectos halló,

Y más, que explicar no sé;

Mas tú, de lo que callé,

Inferirás lo que callo.

Taken from Los Poetas

My lady I must implore...

My lady, I must implore

forgiveness for keeping still,

if what I meant as tribute

ran contrary to your will.

Please do not reproach me

if the course I have maintained

in the eagerness of my love

left my silence unexplained.

I love you with so much passion,

neither rudeness nor neglect

can explain why I tied my tongue,

yet left my heart unchecked.

The matter to me was simple:

love for you was so strong,

I could see you in my soul

and talk to you all day long.

With this idea in mind,

I lived in utter delight,

pretending my subterfuge

found favor in your sight.

In this strange, ingenious fashion,

I allowed the hope to be mine

that I still might see as human

what I really conceived as divine.

Oh, how mad I became

in my blissful love of you,

for even though feigned, your favor

made all my madness seem true!

How unwisely my ardent love,

which your glorious sun inflamed,

sought to feed upon your brightness,

though the risk of your fire was plain!

Forgive me if, thus emboldened,

I made bold with that sacred fire:

there's no sanctuary secure

when thought's transgressions conspire.

Thus it was I kept indulging

these foolhardy hopes of mine,

enjoying within myself

a happiness sublime.

But now, at your solemn bidding,

this silence I herewith suspend,

for your summons unlocks in me

a respect no time can end.

And, although loving your beauty

is a crime beyond repair,

rather the crime be chastised

than my fervor cease to dare.

With this confession in hand,

I pray, be less stern with me.

Do not condemn to distress

one who fancied bliss so free.

If you blame me for disrespect,

remember, you gave me leave;

thus, if obedience was wrong,

your commanding must be my reprieve.

Let my love be ever doomed

if guilty in its intent,

for loving you is a crime

of which I will never repent.

This much I descry in my feelings—

and more that I cannot explain;

but you, from what I've not said,

may infer what words won't contain.

Translated by Alan S. Trueblood


  1. Mi hermano que bellas palabras!

  2. The last thing I expected, CiL.

    I fell back in my chair this time, rather than dance in it.

    My congratulations to the author, to the translator and to the messenger.

  3. una invitacion a esa complicidad, que todos afortunadamente alguna vez padecimos, mal de Amor.
    saludetes mi brother in london,

  4. Ah, passion tempered by restraint. So romantic!

  5. Thank you Mr Cuban, another new poet to research...

    P.S. I am still posting. Blogger has a problem and my new posts are not being feed to other bloggers' bloglists so it appears as if I am stuck with Florence!

    I am feeling very lonely today!

  6. Are you telling me that this nun wrote this passionate love poem? Proof that still waters run deep.

  7. ahh, i needed this like you wouldnt believe

  8. ¡Ay, Cuban, Sor Juana me desordena!!!! Qué señora tan lúcida con la pluma en la mano. Poetisa entre las grandes. Gracias por publicarlo.

  9. Many thanks to you all for your kind comments. Indeed, a nun she was, and a fellow Scorpio to boot (ha, we still rule, don't we ;-D?). She has often been hailed as the first Latin American feminist and also a lesbian icon. Those from Spanish-speaking countries will probably remember Assumpta Serna taking on her role in the unforgettable film by the late Argentinian director, Maria Luisa Bemberg, 'Yo, la Peor de Todas'. Later the film was translated into English and released there as 'I, the Worst of All'. Do yourselves a favour and rent it out if it's available.

    Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  10. very interesting info about the author. i can always appreciate good love poem.

    i think i've heard of that film and will have to check for it.

    (and yes..we do rule! :-D )

  11. " the eagerness of my love
    left my silence unexplained..."
    So beautiful, it left me speechless....
    Spasiba, Mr. Cuban..

  12. Oh this is a wonderful love poem... the fact that it was written by a nun only proves that we are all human. Thanks for introducing me to this poet! I better go and choose my poem for April's National Poetry Month before April comes to an end! Thanks, and greetings from Bloomsbury! Polly x

  13. Many thanks to you all for your lovely comments.

    Greetings from London.

  14. I would love to "hear" the original version. It must sound beautiful spoken out loud. You must like the love poems written by Pablo Neruda?

    Greetings from New York, and enjoy your weekend, Mr. Cuban.

  15. Sor Juana on an April morning, very lovely! Of course she was a scorpio! Only scorpios brood and brim with such fire and passion! I have a literary post as well, please check it out!

  16. Very enjoyable. No, more than that: lovely! good post.

  17. Thanks for bringing such a beautiful Mexico Poet to everyone'e attention!!

  18. Genial, cubanito! Y la traducción me parece fantástica, no crees?

  19. thanks for the comment, and
    maybe that's the problem, that nothings free...

    plus, you got it the other way around...i'm not the one with two hearts...

  20. the poem is exquisite and the painting is of St Theresa of Avila??? saulut du midi.

  21. Many thanks for your kind comments. The painting is of the poet, or poetess, Sor Juana.

    Greetings from London.

  22. ..."quitar el uso a la lengua
    por darselo al corazon...."

    me quedo con esta linea tan bonita..
    i'm quite intrigued by this beautiful nun and you say she was a lesbian icon...
    muy interesante!

  23. Indeed, my castle, she has been hailed as a lesbian icon for many years. Whether she was or not, is up for debate. The story goes that she was infatuated with the viceroy's wife and the film based on her life did nothing to kill these rumours. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  24. magnificent poem.i enjoyed reading it a lot. thanks so much for your visit again today.

  25. Thanks to you for your kind comment, soulbrush.

  26. I find the whole poem fascinating. The author...a feminist, lesbian nun? The translation...superb.

  27. Thanks, diva, I should have included a clip of the movie that was made based on her memoirs but there were no subtitles and I didn't want to leave my English-speaking readership out of the loop.

    Greetings from London.

  28. Your posting was such a delightful surprise (as usual...a port in the storm! )

    I discovered Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz some years back while researching women in history for a project for Women's History Month. I found her amazing and one of the most interesting and flagrantly independent women I had come across. She is a gem that many are completely unfamiliar with.

    I loved reading this beautiful poem and, on top of it, it re-instigated an interest in her and her life and I've been reading up on her this evening.

    Many Thanks!...and Warmest Regards from Utah...

  29. Many thanks to you, Tracy.

    Greetings from London..

  30. ¿Tú te llegaste a leer "Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz o las trampas de la fé" de Octavio Paz?

  31. No, de hecho hay una biografia de Sor Juana que sirvio como inspiracion para la pelicula y no la he comprado todavia. Na', barco que soy.

    Saludos desde Londres.



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