Halt, Dearest Shadow Always Poised to Flee

SOR JUANA INES DE LA CRUZ

Translation by Rhina P. Espaillat

Halt, dearest shadow always poised to flee,
spellbinding vision that I most adore,
fair dream I willingly would perish for,
sweet lie for which I live in misery.
If it is fated that your charms must be
magnets to the true steel of my heart’s core,
why court me sweetly, flatter and implore,
and then laugh at my greed and run from me?
But never mind: you shall not boast you have
trumped, or that your power is complete:
you may escape the strict confinement of
bonds you evade and vanquish with deceit—
but though my arms and breast may lose your love,
fantasy builds a cell you cannot cheat.


Rhina P. Espaillat lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Her books include Rehearsing AbsenceMundo y Palabra / The World and the Word, The Shadow I Dress In and Playing at Stillness.

First published in Measure, Volume 1 (2006)