Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Start Free Trial

How does Sor Juana express her love for her lady in the poem "My Lady"?

Sor Juana very directly expresses her love for her lady in "My Lady." Her words are both eloquent and passionate. Sor Juana reveals that it is a crime for which she will never atone, but she nonetheless revels in the illicit nature of her desires. She loves so much that she is unable to describe it in words, but her lady may infer what words cannot contain.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Sor Juana expresses her love for her lady in emotionally powerful, almost erotic terms. The speaker states explicitly, "I love you with so much passion." There's really no ambiguity here. While love poems between noble women who were friends were by no means unusual in the 17th century, Sor Juana hints at something a good deal deeper than mere friendship.

As a nun, Sor Juana knows that such language addressed to a man would be scandalous: it is even more so when addressed to another woman. Yet there is more than a hint of defiance in the passionate love she has for her lady. Although she acknowledges the illicit nature of her desires, she nevertheless feels no shame and will continue to love her lady as passionately as ever:

Loving you is a crime / For which I shall never atone.

The rapturous nature of the speaker's love is heightened by the fact that she can never be with her lady—at least not for very long. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and the distance between Sor Juana and her lady only serves to inflame the already raging desires that burn away deep inside her heart. Although Sor Juana proves herself to be remarkably adept at expressing the true depths of her feelings, she acknowledges that there is so much more to her love than words can convey:

This much I descry in my feelings—
and more that I cannot explain;
but you, from what I've not said,
may infer what words won't contain.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team