To Julia de Burgos


The people are saying that I am your enemy,
      That in poetry I give you to the world.

      They lie, Julia de Burgos. They lie, Julia de Burgos.
The voice that rises in my verses is not your voice: it is my voice;
For you are the clothing and I am the essence;
Between us lies the deepest abyss.

      You are the bloodless doll of social lies
And I the virile spark of human truth;

      You are the honey of courtly hypocrisy; not I–
I bare my heart in all my poems.

      You, like your world, are selfish; not I–
I gamble everything to be what I am.

      Your are only the serious lady. Senora. Dona Julia.
Not I. I am life. I am strength. I am woman.

      You belong to your husband, your master. Not I:
I belong to nobody or to all, for to all, to all
I give myself in my pure feelings and thoughts.

      You curl your hair and paint your face. Not I:
I am curled by the wind, painted by the sun.

You are the lady of the house, resigned, submissive,
Tied to the bigotry of men. Not I:
I am Rocinante, bolting free, wildly
Snuffling the horizons of the justice of God.


                                Spanish; trans. Grace Schulman


Julia de Burgos, Spanish, trans. Grace Schulman, The Nation, October 9, 1972.