The Liquid Pour in which my Heart has Run: Poems by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Translated by Rhina P. Espaillat
Publication Date: September 5, 2023
Known as the “Phoenix of the Americas” and “The Tenth Muse,” Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was a scholar, poet, and cloistered nun. Her poetry, like her singular life, is fired with intensity and intelligence. Neither life in a convent nor the strictures of time and place could bind Sor Juana’s thirst for knowledge or her creativity. As Sally Read notes in her introduction, when reading about Sor Juana and her work “one has the sense of a woman who pours out poetry as a tight faucet shoots out high-pressure water. The time in which Juana was born, and the culture of New Spain, were the constricting faucet; her writing was the irrepressible flood.”
Translating Juana’s work into English carries a grave risk, for it would be far too easy to drown in the flow of imagery, music, and wit. With her innate sensitivity and deft craft, Rhina P. Espaillat is one of the few poets capable of navigating us through the “irrepressible flood” and safely onto the luxurious shores of Sor Juana’s work. This book represents the confluence of two poets, each extraordinary in her own right, who have joined together over time to create a work that overflows with the enchantments essential to verse—music, metaphor, and meaning.
Praise for Rhina P. Espaillat's Translation
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s verse exhibited a mastery of form, together with an abundance of serious wit, that made it impossible to deny the poet her rightful place in a culture dead set on denying it. Her gifts and skills continue to open minds and, to borrow one of her own images, to render them opulent by learning. Now the great Rhina P. Espaillat, a poet every bit as gifted and skilled as Sor Juana, has rendered the nun’s deathless poems in all their perfectly measured opulence. An encounter with these sparkling translations will leave readers doubly enriched.
—Boris Dralyuk, award-winning translator, critic, and author of My Hollywood and Other Poems
Too few people have heard of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz—a poet-philosopher-nun whose creative and intellectual aptitudes thwarted the conventions of her time. Lover of truth and oracle of love, spirited defender of her sex, Sor Juana is a delight to read. Her poems reveal a mind and heart thrumming with life. Rhina Espaillat’s lively and lyrical translation is a vital leap forward in bringing Sor Juana out of the shadows of history.
—Abigail Favale, author of The Genesis of Gender
Rhina Espaillat is the only translator I know who can render an original poem into English with perfect fidelity. Translation can be a kind of treachery: traduttore, traditore. It usually involves a trade-off—between a poem’s meaning and the form that is integral to its effect. The Liquid Pour in which my Heart has Run reproduces both. The poems do justice to every nuance without injecting anything that isn’t there.
Readers are always at the mercy of the translator. But with a poem? Each word is freighted with such heavy responsibility! Robert Frost defined poetry as “what gets lost in translation”; Rhina Espaillat finds it every time.
—Deborah Warren, author of Strange to Say: Etymology for Serious Entertainment and Connoisseurs of Worms