Last updated Sept. 5, 2000
Sister Juana Inés de la
To Her Portrait
This that you see, the false presentment planned
With finest art and all the colored shows
And reasonings of shade, doth but disclose
The poor deceits by earthly senses fanned!
Here where in constant flattery expand
Excuses for the stains that old age knows,
Pretexts against the years' advancing snows,
The footprints of old seasons to withstand;
'Tis but vain artifice of scheming minds;
'Tis but a flower fading on the winds;
'Tis but a useless protest against Fate;
'Tis but stupidity without a thought,
A lifeless shadow, if we meditate;
'Tis death, tis dust, tis shadow, yea, 'tis nought.
Roderick Gill (translator)
From: Hispanic Anthology: Poems Translated from the Spanish by English and North American Poets, collected and arranged by Thomas Walsh. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1920.