You Foolish Men by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

The brilliant and courageous Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (internal link) pioneers ground Elizabeth Barett Browning (internal link) would later cover in her own way.

Dictionary.com says that ‘Thais’ was an “Athenian courtesan: mistress of Alexander the Great and Ptolemy I”. The Brittanica explains that ‘Lucretia’ was, according to tradition, “[T]he beautiful and virtuous wife of the nobleman Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus.”

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz took great risks with her writing which was against the puritanical and patriarchal times governed by The Church, of which she was a nun. Good show!

You Foolish Men
by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz – 1648-1695

You foolish men who lay
the guilt on women,
not seeing you’re the cause
of the very thing you blame;

If you invite their disdain
with measureless desire
why wish they well behave
if you incite to ill.

You fight their stubbornness,
then, weightily,
you say it was their lightness
when it was your guile.

In all your crazy shows
you act just like a child
who plays the bogeyman
of which he’s then afraid.

With foolish arrogance
you hope to find a Thais
in her you court, but a Lucretia
when you’ve possessed her.

What kind of mind is odder
than his who mists
a mirror and then complains
that it’s not clear.

Their favour and disdain
you hold in equal state,
if they mistreat, you complain,
you mock if they treat you well.

No woman wins esteem of you:
the most modest is ungrateful
if she refuses to admit you;
yet if she does, she’s loose.

You always are so foolish
your censure is unfair;
one you blame for cruelty
the other for being easy.

What must be her temper
who offends when she’s
ungrateful and wearies
when compliant?

But with the anger and the grief
that your pleasure tells
good luck to her who doesn’t love you
and you go on and complain.

Your lover’s moans give wings
to women’s liberty:
and having made them bad,
you want to find them good.

Who has embraced
the greater blame in passion?
She who, solicited, falls,
or he who, fallen, pleads?

Who is more to blame,
though either should do wrong?
She who sins for pay
or he who pays to sin?

Why be outraged at the guilt
that is of your own doing?
Have them as you make them
or make them what you will.

Leave off your wooing
and then, with greater cause,
you can blame the passion
of her who comes to court?

Patent is your arrogance
that fights with many weapons
since in promise and insistence
you join world, flesh and devil.

Very well done reading by ErinIsNice.

About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer specializing in outdoor subjects, particularly rocks, gems and minerals.
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