Thursday, September 22, 2005

Redondillas I

Hoy es mi día de español--tengo tarea, la clase de literatura hispanola y coro español. Este "post" está dedicado a Xolo, quien comparta la nacionalidad con esta gran escritora.

Hombres necios que acusáis
a la mujer, sin razón,
sin ver que sois la ocasión
de lo mismo que culpáis;

si con ansia sin igual
solicitáis su desdén,
por qué queréis que obren bien
si las incitáis al mal?

Combatís su resistencia
y luego, con gravedad,
decís que fue liviandad
lo que hizo la diligencia.

Parecer quiere el denuedo
de vuestro parecer loco,
al niño que pone el coco
y luego le tiene miedo.

Queréis, con presunción necia,
hallar a la que buscáis
para prentendida, Thais,
y en la posesión, Lucrecia.

¿Qué humor puede ser más raro
que el que, falto de consejo,
él mismo empaña el espejo
y siente que no esté claro?

Con el favor y el desdén
tenéis condición igual,
quejándoos, si os tratan mal,
burlándoos, si os quieren bien.

Opinión, ninguna gana,
pues la que más se recata,
si no os admite, es ingrata,
y si os admite, es liviana.

Siempre tan necios andáis
que, con desigual nivel,
a una culpáis por cruel
y a otra por fácil culpáis.

¿Pues como ha de estar templada
la que vuestro amor pretende?,
¿si la que es ingrata ofende,
y la que es fácil enfada?

Mas, entre el enfado y la pena
que vuestro gusto refiere,
bien haya la que no os quiere
y quejaos en hora buena.

Dan vuestras amantes penas
a sus libertades alas,
y después de hacerlas malas
las queréis hallar muy buenas.

¿Cuál mayor culpa ha tenido
en una pasión errada:
la que cae de rogada,
o el que ruega de caído?

¿O cuál es de más culpar,
aunque cualquiera mal haga;
la que peca por la paga
o el que paga por pecar?

¿Pues, para qué os espantáis
de la culpa que tenéis?
Queredlas cual las hacéis
o hacedlas cual las buscáis.

Dejad de solicitar,
y después, con más razón,
acusaréis la afición
de la que os fuere a rogar.

Bien con muchas armas fundo
que lidia vuestra arrogancia,
pues en promesa e instancia
juntáis diablo, carne y mundo.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

I'm not fond of doing this, but here's an attempt at translating Sor Juana's beautiful words (not my own translation). A lot of it's beauty is lost, but I didn't want to leave out my English readers.

Silly, you men-so very adept
at wrongly faulting womankind,
not seeing you're alone to blame
for faults you plant in woman's mind.

After you've won by urgent plea
the right to tarnish her good name,
you still expect her to behave--
you, that coaxed her into shame.

You batter her resistance down
and then, all righteousness, proclaim
that feminine frivolity,
not your persistence, is to blame.

When it comes to bravely posturing,
your witlessness must take the prize:
you're the child that makes a bogeyman,
and then recoils in fear and cries.

Presumptuous beyond belief,
you'd have the woman you pursue
be Thais when you're courting her,
Lucretia once she falls to you.

For plain default of common sense,
could any action be so queer
as oneself to cloud the mirror,
then complain that it's not clear?

Whether you're favored or disdained,
nothing can leave you satisfied.
You whimper if you're turned away,
you sneer if you've been gratified.

With you, no woman can hope to score;
whichever way, she's bound to lose;
spurning you, she's ungrateful--
succumbing, you call her lewd.

Your folly is always the same:
you apply a single rule
to the one you accuse of looseness
and the one you brand as cruel.

What happy mean could there be
for the woman who catches your eye,
if, unresponsive, she offends,
yet whose complaisance you decry?

Still, whether it's torment or anger--
and both ways you've yourselves to blame--
God bless the woman who won't have you,
no matter how loud you complain.

It's your persistent entreaties
that change her from timid to bold.
Having made her thereby naughty,
you would have her good as gold.

So where does the greater guilt lie
for a passion that should not be:
with the man who pleads out of baseness
or the woman debased by his plea?

Or which is more to be blamed--
though both will have cause for chagrin:
the woman who sins for money
or the man who pays money to sin?

So why are you men all so stunned
at the thought you're all guilty alike?
Either like them for what you've made them
or make of them what you can like.

If you'd give up pursuing them,
you'd discover, without a doubt,
you've a stronger case to make
against those who seek you out.

I well know what powerful arms
you wield in pressing for evil:
your arrogance is allied
with the world, the flesh, and the devil!


  1. Sor Juana is one of the historical figures I admire the most.

    I highly recommend reading a biography of her if you get a chance.

    Thanks for the dedication.

  2. WOW!!! I love that!!

    When I first saw it - I thought I was gonna have to translate it myself - lol!!

  3. lovely piece of poetry. thought provoking for sure! my spanish is fairly rusty so i was glad to see the translation too.

  4. Xolo- I figured she would be one of your faves. There aren't many people of LA heritage or who have studied it who don't admire Sor Juana. Considering that this is one of her more famous poems (and a personal favorite), I was hoping you wouldn't take the dedication the wrong way. I've been meaning to read Octavio Paz's "Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz y tramas de la fe." I have studied her intensely, though. I'm also interested in reading "Sor Juana's Second Dream." It's in English and fictionalized, but my professor says it's really terrific.

    Snavy & Lime- If I'm ambitious enough to post something in Spanish, I try to translate it, usually myself. Poetry is so much harder to translate and so much is lost. This translation is fairly good and keeps the poetic feel to it. I'm glad you enjoyed this piece. I'm not sure how much is out there translated, but she has such an incredible selection of writings. I would encourage you to read anything written by her.

  5. Thank you for posting it in English, it just like you Tina to be so thoughtful. This is helping to keep my mind off Rita.

    I know tomorrow I got to unplug my computer and try and put it in a safe place ... but until then, I am Blogging!

  6. I must say this translation has helped me understand this poem much better then already had or so I thought, so great job.

  7. get back in the kitchen and make me another sandwich.

    1. with or without mayo ?

  8. Still reading this in 2013.