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Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

(1651 - 1695 / San Miguel Nepantla / Mexico)


Lo atrevido de un pincel,
Filis, dio a mi pluma alientos:
que tan gloriosa desgracia
más causa corrió que miedo.

Logros de errar por tu causa
fue de mi ambición el cebo;
donde es el riesgo apreciable
¿qué tanto valdrá el acierto?

Permite, pues, a mi pluma
segundo arriesgado vuelo,
pues no es el primer delito
que le disculpa el ejemplo


de ti, peregrina Filis?,
cuyo divino sujeto
se dio por merced al mundo,
se dio por ventaja al cielo;

en cuyas divinas aras,
ni sudor arde sabeo,
ni sangre se efunde humana,
ni bruto se corta cuello,

pues del mismo corazón
los combatientes deseos
son holocausto poluto,
son materiales afectos,

y solamente del alma
en religiosos incendios
arde sacrificio puro
de adoración y silencio.


Yo, pues, mi adorada Filis,
que tu deidad reverencio,
que tu desdén idolatro
y que tu rigor venero:

bien así, como la simple
amante que, en tornos ciegos,
es despojo de la llama
por tocar el lucimiento

como el niño que, inocente,
aplica incauto los dedos
a la cuchilla, engañado
del resplandor del acero,

y herida la tierna mano,
aún sin conocer el yerro,
más que el dolor de la herida
siente apartarse del reo;

cual la enamorada Clicie
que, al rubio amante siguiendo,
siendo padre de las luces,
quiere eñsenarle adimientos;

como a lo cóncavo el aire,
como a la materia el fuego,
como a su centro las peñas,
como a su fin los intentos;

bien como todas las cosas
naturales, que el deseo
de conservarse, las une
amante en lazos estrechos...

Pero ¿para qué es cansarse?
Como a ti, Filis, te quiero;
que en lo que mereces, éste
es solo encarecimiento.

Ser mujer, ni estar ausente,
no es de amarte impedimento;
pues sabes tú que las almas
distancia ignoran y sexo.


¿Puedo yo dejar de amarte
si tan divina te advierto?
¿Hay causa sin producir?
¿Hay potencia sin objeto?

Pues siendo tú el más hermanso,
grande, soberano exceso
que ha visto en círculos tantos
el verde torno del tiempo,

¿para qué mi amor te vio?
¿Por qué mi fe te encarezco,
cuando es cada prenda tuya
firma de mi cautiverio?

Vuelve a ti misma los ojos
y hallarás, en ti y en ellos,
no sólo el amor posible,
mas preciso el rendimiento,

entre tanto que el cuidado,
en contemplarte suspenso,
que vivo asegura sólo
en fe de que por ti muero.

Phyllis, a brush's boldness
emboldens my feather-pen:
that brush's glorious failure
engenders hope, not fear.

Risking error in your cause
sufficed to spur me on.
When risk becomes so precious,
what value has mere success?

So do allow this quill
to risk another flight,
since, having offended once,
it otherwise has no leave.


You, 0 exquisite Phyllis,
such a heavenly creature,
grace's gift to the world,
heaven's very perfection.

On your most hallowed altars
no Sheban gums are burnt,
no human blood is spilt,
no throat of beast is slit,

for even warring desires
within the human breast
are a sacrifice unclean,
a tie to things material,

and only when the soul
is afire with holiness
does sacrifice glow pure,
is adoration mute.


I, my dearest Phyllis,
who revere you as divine,
who idolize your disdain,
and venerate your rigor;

I, like the hapless lover
who, blindly circling and circling,
on reaching the glowing core,
falls victim to the flame;

I, like the innocent child,
who, lured by the flashing steel,
rashly runs a finger
along the knife-blade's edge;

who, despite the cut he suffers,
is ignorant of the source
and protests giving it up
more than he minds the pain;

I, like adoring Clytie,
gaze fixed on golden Apollo,
who would teach him how to shine--
teach the father of brightness!

I, like air filling a vacuum,
like fire feeding on matter,
like rocks plummeting earthward,
like the will set on a goal-

in short, as all things in Nature,
moved by a will to endure,
are drawn together by love
in closely knit embrace ...

But, Phyllis, why go on?
For yourself alone I love you.
Considering your merits,
what more is there to say?

That you're a woman far away
is no hindrance to my love:
for the soul, as you well know,
distance and sex don't count.


How could I fail to love you,
once I found you divine?
Can a cause fail to bring results,
capacity go unfulfilled?

Since you are the acme of beauty,
the height of all that's sublime--
that Time's green axle-tree
beholds in its endless turning--

can you wonder my love sought you out?
Why need I stress that I'm true,
when every one of your features
betokens my enslavement?

Turn your eyes toward yourself
and you'll find in yourself and in them
not only occasion for love
but compulsion to surrender.

Meanwhile my tender care
bears witness I only live
to gaze at you spellbound and sigh,
to prove that for you I die.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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