Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz - this thing you see, a bright-colored deceit

Sonnet 145

In which she attempts to refute the praises of a portrait of the poet, signed by truth, which she calls passion

This thing you see, a bright-colored deceit,
displaying all the many charms of art,
with false syllogisms of tint and hue
is a cunning deception of the eye;

this thing in which sheer flattery has tried
to evade the stark horrors of the years
and, vanquishing the cruelties of time,
to triumph over age and oblivion,

is vanity, contrivance, artifice,
a delicate blossom stranded in the wind,
a failed defense against our common fate;

a fruitless enterprise, a great mistake,
a decepit frenzy, and rightly viewed,
a corpse, some dust, a shadow, mere nothingness.

translated by Edith Grossman

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