SHE TRIES TO REFUTE THE PRAISE INSCRIBED ON HER PORTRAIT BY TRUTH, WHICH SHE CALLS PASSION


(from the Spanish of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz O.H.S. 1651-1695)

What you see here is colourful illusion
flaunting all the artist’s subtle skill
with clever arguments of tone and hue—
it’s but a cunning trap to snare the will;
here where painted flattery has tried
to triumph over the horror of the years
and, conquering the ravages of time,
overcome oblivion and old age:
this is a careful artifice, though vain,
a fragile blossom battered by the wind,
a note of invitation sent to Fate;
a fool’s vocation that is doomed to fail
a will outmoded, and all things considered,
is corpse, is dust, is shadow, and is nothing.

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