When You Pursue Me, World

In which the poet complains of her fate, notes her aversion to luxuries, and justifies her pleasure in the Muses.

When you pursue me, world, why do you do it?
How do I harm you, when my sole intent
is to make learning my prize ornament,
not learn to prize ornament and pursue it?

I have no treasure, and I do not rue it,
since all my life I have been most content
rendering mind—by learning—opulent,
not minding opulence, rendering tribute to it.

I have no taste for beauties that decay
and are the spoil of ages as they flee,
nor do those riches please me that betray;

best of all truths I hold this truth to be:
cast all the vanities of life away,
and not your life away on vanity.

Translation, Rhina P. Espaillat

Adriaen van Utrecht, Banquet Still Life, 1664

En perseguirme, mundo, qué interesas?

¿En perseguirme, mundo, qué interesas?
¿En qué te ofendo, cuando sólo intento
poner bellezas en mi entendimiento
y no mi entendimiento en las bellezas?

Yo no estimo tesoros ni riquezas,
y así, siempre me causa más contento
poner riquezas en mi entendimiento
que no mi entendimiento en las riquezas.

Yo no estimo hermosura que vencida
es despojo civil de las edades
ni riqueza me agrada fementida,

teniendo por mejor en mis verdades
consumir vanidades de la vida
que consumir la vida en vanidades.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648–1695)