100 Refutations: Day 64

Foolish Men

Foolish men, eagerly accusing
women without cause,
seeing not that from you springs
the very same, those very flaws;

If readily you do invite them
to happily disdain you,
how do you want them well behaved
if toward evil you’ll incite them?

[…]

What temper could be stranger?
Than that of he who, lacking counsel,
fogs the mirror with his breath
and then whines at blurred reflection?

[…]

How can she, who for your love longs,
keep her wits and keep her center
if she who doesn’t is a prude and offends
and she who does is a slut and angers?

Though between the anger and the insult
by all your liking forged,
if there still be one who doesn’t want you,
then joyous hour for complaint.

Your lovers hang sorrows
on liberty’s wings
for, after making them bad,
you wish to find them good.

Whom, then, has sinned more
in mistaken passion:
she who falls to his begging?
Or he who, fallen, begs her?

Or who has greater blame,
though in any blame you’ll find,
she who sins for pay
or he who pays to sin?

How are you then startled
to find guilt there in your heart?
Love them as you make them.
Or make them as you wish.

[…]

Now, with all my weapons
your arrogance I battle,
for in promise and petition
you join devil, flesh, and world.

Bios

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillana (1648-1695), or as she is better known, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, was a self-educated poet, philosopher, and composer during the colonial period in Mexico—then called the territory of New Spain. She was fluent in Latin and Nahuatl in addition to her native Spanish. She is considered one of the most important and influential writers of the period, not merely within the Mexican or Hispanic American traditions, but in the entire Spanish-speaking world. She was forced to join a nunnery in her late teens by her own confessor and later lifelong antagonist the Bishop of Puebla. In a letter years later she would recall this, writing, “If you had known I was to write verses you would not have placed me in the convent but arranged my marriage.” The cloistered life afforded her time, access to books, and a cell of her own, and thus it became her most prolific period. The poetry she composed there would make her famous in the world well beyond the convent walls, and allow her to reel the world back into those walls, receiving many visitors and admirers and earning the protection and patronage of the viceroys of De Mancera, the archbishop viceroy Payo Enríquez de Rivera, and the marquises de la Laguna de Camero Viejo. Her work has long been honored by the Mexican government, and her life and works have inspired numerous authors, composers, and filmmakers. Carlos Fuentes once called her “the first great Latin American poet.” She died at age 43 of an unknown plague while caring for a sister of her religious order, shortly after writing the now-famous letter to Sor Filotea de la Cruz, the pen name for the Bishop of Puebla.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V. earned MFAs in creative nonfiction writing and literary translation from The University of Iowa. She is the author of Drown Sever Sing from Anomalous Press and Don’t Come Back from Mad River Books, as well as editor, with Sarah Viren, of the forthcoming anthology Essaying the Americas. Her fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and translation work has been featured in journals including Bellingham ReviewChicago ReviewFourth GenreBrevityPoets & Writers, and The Sunday Rumpus, among others. She won Best of the Net and Iron Horse Review’s Discovered Voices Award, has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and is a Rona Jaffe fellow. She moved from Colombia to China to Columbus, Ohio to Richmond, Virginia, where she works as an assistant professor for Virginia Commonwealth University. Visit www.linawritesessays.com.

English translation copyright (c) Lina M. Ferreira C.-V., 2018.