Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: sonnet #145



Éste que ves, engaño colorido,
que del arte ostentando los primores,
con falsos silogismos de colores,
es cauteloso engaño del sentido;

éste en quien la lisonja ha pretendido
excusar de los años los horrores,
y, venciendo del tiempo los rigores
triunfar de la vejez y del olvido,

es un vano artificio del cuidado,
es una flor al viento delicada,
es un resguardo inútil para el hado;

es una necia diligencia errada,
es un afán caduco y, bien mirado,
es cadáver, es polvo, es sombra, es nada.


This object which you see—a painted snare
exhibiting the subtleties of art
with clever arguments of tone and hue—
is but a cunning trap to snare your sense;

this object, in which flattery has tried
to overcome the horrors of the years
and, conquering the ravages of time,
to overcome oblivion and age:

this is an empty artifice of care,
a flower, fragile, set out in the wind,
a letter of safe-conduct sent to Fate;

it is a foolish, erring diligence,
a palsied will to please which, clearly seen,
is a corpse, is dust, is shadow, and is gone.

Translated by Electa Arenal and Amanda Powell. New York: The Feminist Press, 1994, p. 153.

What you see here is colorful illusion,
an art boasting of beauty and its skill,
which in false reasoning of color will
pervert the mind in delicate delusion.
Here where the flatteries of paint engage
to vitiate the horrors of the years,
where softening the rust of time appears
to triunph over oblivion and age,
all is vain, careful disguise of clothing,
it is a slender blossom in the gale,
it is a futile port for doom reserved,
it is a foolish labor that can only fail:
it is a wasting zeal and, well observed,
is corpse, is dust, is shadow, and is nothing.

Translated by Willis Barnstone. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2003, p. 172.

This thing you see, a trick of colors
showing off the workmanship of art
with false syllogisms of color
is a clever trick of the senses;

this thing, in which flattery presumed
to hide the horrors of the years
and, overcoming the rigors of time,
to triumph over age and oblivion,

is a vain artifice of careful work,
a delicate flower thrown to the wind,
a useless safeguard against destiny;

it is a foolish, mistaken effort,
an expired desire, and, correctly viewed,
it is cadaver, dust and shadow, nothing.

Translated by William Little. Gainesville, Florida, Santa Fe Community College, 2007.