Wednesday, October 17, 2012

a poem by Juana Ines de la Cruz

(She was a nun in colonial Mexico who lived from 12 November 1651 to 17 April 1695)

To the Matchless Pen of Europe

I am not the one your think, 
your old world quills
have given me another life,
your lips have breathed another spirit into me,
and diverse from myself
I exist between your plumes,
not as I am, but as you
have wanted to imagine me

Found this in Sor Juana's Second Dream by Alicia Gaspar de Alba.


  1. I wonder if I could have made it as a poet in the 1600s. As long as you had some quills and something to write on, seems like you would have an advantage over the rest of the peasantry, who probably couldn't even read or write. Not to take anything away from Miss Cruz who is a great poet.

  2. Joan Agnes of the Cross was quite prophetic in one of her poems "Escoge antes el morir que exponerse a los ultrajes de la vejez" with the line "it's good luck to die while beautiful and see not the affront of being old."
    She died at the age I gave up smoking cigarettes 43
    You certainly come up with some interesting people Aguilar

    1. interesting input. thanks for sharing. and that's great you were able to give up cigs!

  3. Hmm.. is this poem about colonisation? It seems to me that what she is saying is that Europe has formed her world view even though she is not of Europe? The quill is something you write with but feathers were made into cloaks and art works by the Aztecs, so there is something about the form of her existence being shaped from overseas? Have I misunderstood this?

    1. it certainly rings of colonization overtones. it's possible she had multiple meanings in mind. i read it as a struggle of her expressing the struggle between what she knows her identity to be and how people perceive her.

  4. That's intriguing... so deep. Thanks for sharing that, it's really interesting to think about the issues the poem is talking about.