Form and Content
A Sor Juana Anthology is a collection of some of the best poetry of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, along with a sample of her poetic drama and prose, selected by Mexican poet and essayist Octavio Paz and translator Alan S. Trueblood. Since her poetry is the heart of her achievement, it forms the major part of the anthology, divided to indicate general themes and type of verse: convent and court, vicarious love, music, divine love, self and the world, lighter pieces, and festive worship (villancicos). Sor Juana’s work clearly places her among Spanish poets of the Baroque in the tradition of Luis de Góngora and Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Her lyrical poetry was praised for its ingenious use of conventional forms: decorative and exotic imagery, symbolism, hyperbole, antithesis, paradox, and references to philosophy, science, and other areas of learning. The modern reader, however, may occasionally sense an individual voice behind the conventions and appreciate glimpses of Sor Juana’s struggles to express herself artistically under the constraints of being a woman in seventeenth century Mexico.
Sor Juana’s poetic drama is exemplified by excerpts from El divino Narciso (c. 1680; The Divine Narcissus, 1945), a series of allegorical tableaux in which human nature reveals her quest of Christ in the form of Narcissus. As an auto sacramental (one-act play celebrating the Eucharist), it is considered a masterpiece....
(The entire section is 539 words.)