The Baroque Transition
T-28 Catholic beyond Italy
589-592 (top), #1 (written), 596-599
495-498, 592-594, 603-604
R-30 Stuart England
#1. POEMS BY JUANA INES DE LA CRUZ
Assignment: Write a one-paragraph reaction to any point raised by the life or writings of Juana Ines de la Cruz.
A Mexican nun, Sister Juana Ines de La Cruz (WAH-na ee-NACE day-lah-KROOZ) wrote about the agony of Baroque life. She had been a brilliant student. She wanted to disguise herself as a boy so she could attend the university, but her mother would not allow it. So she taught herself. Forty professors came to examine her in philosophy, science, literature, history, and religion--and she amazed them all. She spent her teenage years at the court of the viceroy, where she wrote poems about a romance that failed. But the only possible futures for a Mexican girl at that time were either marriage or the church. She chose the church because it offered more freedom. She wrote some strong things about the way husbands treat their wives. But even as a nun, she felt guilty about her constant studying. And her superiors criticized her for stuffing her head with dangerous knowledge. She also got into trouble for insisting that American Indian religion should be respected, and showing that it agreed with much of Christianity. Her poems tell the spiritual agony of Baroque life.
from ON MEN WHO FIND IN WOMEN FAULTS WHICH THEY THEMSELVES HAVE CAUSED
Ah stupid men, unreasonable
In blaming woman's nature, *blind
Oblivious* that your acts incite+ +cause
The very faults you censure#.... #condemn
No woman your esteem@ can earn @respect
Though cautious and mistrustful;
You call her cruel, if denied,
And if accepted, lustful....
Let loved ones* cage their liberties *wives
Like any captive bird; you
Will violate them none the less,
Apostrophising virtue.+ +claiming wifely duty
Which has the greater sin when burned
By the same lawless fever:
She who is amorously# deceived, #claiming love
Or he, the sly deceiver?
Or which deserves the sterner blame,
Though each will be a sinner,
She who becomes a whore for pay,
Or he who pays to win her?
Are you astounded at your faults,
Which could not well be direr?@ @worse
Then love what you have made her be,
Or make as you desire her.
I warn you: trouble her no more,
But earn the right to visit* *bestow
Your righteous wrath on any jade+ +slut
Who might your lust solicit,,
This arrogance# of men, in truth #cruel pride
Comes armored with all evil--
Sworn promise, plea of urgency--
0 world, 0 flesh, 0 devil!
WHY, PEOPLE, DO YOU PERSECUTE ME SO
Why, people, do you persecute me so?
In what do I offend, when but inclined
with worldly beauties@ to adorn my mind, @knowledge
and not my mind on beauty to bestow?
I value not a treasure trove, nor wealth;
the greater measure of content I find
in placing riches only in my mind,
than setting all my intellect on wealth.
And I esteem not beauty,* for, when past *of face
it is the spoils of age's cruelty!
nor faithless riches carefully amassed.
Far better nibble, it seems to me,
at all life's vanities+ unto the last +little pleasures
than to consume my life in vanity.@ @frivolousness and pride
MY SOUL IS CONFUSEDLY DIVIDED
My soul is confusedly divided into two parts,
one a slave to passion,# #religious passion
the other measured by reason.
Inflamed civil war
importunately* afflicts my bosom. *demandingly
Each part strives to prevail,
and amidst such varied storms,
both contenders will perish,
and neither one will triumph.
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