Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz writes a poem here which is a fairly novel twist on a commonplace poetic theme of love. I don’t know if this particular poem comes from early or late in her life, but if it was a late poem, it would be thry type of subject that would have got her into trouble with her religious hierarchy after she entered a convent.
It is a sonnet, and is given a title which adds considerably to the space needed on the page, and which sets out the lover’s dilemma which is explored in the poem.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
RESUELVE LA CUESTIÓN DE CUÁL SEA PESAR MÁS MOLESTO EN ENCONTRADAS CORRESPONDENCIAS: AMAR O ABORRECER
Que no me quiera Fabio al verse amado
es dolor sin igual, en mi sentido;
mas que me quiera Silvio aborrecido
es menor mal, mas no menor enfado.
¿Qué sufrimiento no estará cansado,
si siempre le resuenan al oído,
tras la vana arrogancia de un querido,
el cansado gemir de un desdeñado?
Si de Silvio me cansa el rendimiento,
a Fabio canso con estar rendida:
si de éste busco el agradecimiento,
a mí me busca el otro agradecida:
por activa y pasiva es mi tormento,
pues padezco en querer y ser querida.
The poet contrasts her relationship with two men, Fabio and Silvio, presumably archetypes for the attitudes described, and asks which type of relationship causes most pain – for the poet to love someone (Fabio) who doesn’t return her love, or to be loved by someone (Silvio) who she doesn’t love. Tricky situation indeed and it must have given rise to many a Hollywood romantic comedy.
The second stanza shows the consequences of this situation – the poet has to listen to both the disdainful arrogance of the man who doesn’t love her and also the pained complaints of the man she doesn’t love.
The theme is continued in the final two stanzas, and finishes with the elegant linguistic paradox in the last line, “pues padezco en querer y ser querido”, “so I suffer by loving and being loved”. You can imagine the round of applause the poet received when finishing her recital on this note.
The Poetry Dude