American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets

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Example text

I went into my house. I saw my old room yellowed with the sickening breath of age, my cane flimsier than before. I felt my sword coffined in rust, and walked about, and everything I looked at bore a warning of the wasted gaze of death. To Rome, Buried in Its Ruins You look in Rome for Rome, O peregrine! You cannot find the site of Rome in Rome. What glowed as walls is now a corpse's home, a tomb for its own being, the Aventine. The Palatine lies ruined, a mere cage, and its medallions are filed down by time; destruction from the battle wounds of age command great Latin emblems now in slime.

The poem, written in the voice of a woman, traces an escape from the cell to a rendezvous with the lover with whom she sleeps, an allegory for the soul's escape from the prison of worldly senses to mystical immersion in God. In the mystical process, he says in his Commentaries, in order to obtain spiritual union with God one must pass through three stages: the vía purgativa, the vía iluminativa, and the vía unitiva. His "simile," to use his word, for the union of soul with God is the climax of human sexual love.

Many of their poems are metric word games that can be deciphered only by a prose paraphrase. ). The late hybrid child of The Solitudes is Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz's "Primero sueño" (First dream), hybrid because in addition to its imitation of Góngora's verbal trickeries, it also has an intellectual core of ontological speculation worthy of Quevedo's conceptismo. Yet if Góngora's meaning is obscure, it is not necessarily profound. More often than not the prose paraphrase is of little circumstance.

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