Esta tarde mi bien

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, writing from her convent in Mexico in the late 1600s, did not hesitate to tackle themes of love in her poetry, despite the difficulties it brought to her from the religious hierarchy. This poem, a sonnet, is about the force of love overcoming the difficulties of jealousy, miscommunication and misunderstanding. It is a love poem which emphasises the problems and challenges in a loving relationship, rather than the joys and pleasures.


Esta tarde, mi bien, cuando te hablaba,
como en tu rostro y tus acciones vía
que con palabras no te persuadía,
que el corazón me vieses deseaba;

y Amor, que mis intentos ayudaba,
venció lo que imposible parecía:
pues entre el llanto, que el dolor vertía,
el corazón deshecho destilaba.

Baste ya de rigores, mi bien, baste:
no te atormenten más celos tiranos,
ni el vil recelo tu inquietud contraste

con sombras necias, con indicios vanos,
pues ya en líquido humor viste y tocaste
mi corazón deshecho entre tus manos.


The first two stanzas set out the problem and its immediate consequence. The poet is trying to persuade her lover with words that his jealousy is misplaced and that she loves him, but words cannot persuade him, and so her heart falls into despair. The force of love makes her display her pain and broken heart through tears and lamentations.

The result of this is shown in the final two stanzas, where jealousy is conquered by love, which calms down the vicissitudes and torments of jealousy. The force of love is manifested, not by words, but by the deep distress of the poet’s heart, which she lays bare to her lover.

The psychological truth of this poem is clear – often we cannot explain ourselves with words, but need tears, body language and behaviour to convey the strength and depth of our feelings. This is not a comfortable love poem, but the fact that love triumphs in the face of adversity is a positive message.

Don’t give up on love

The Poetry Dude


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