This poem appears in anthologies under three titles. It is most commonly referred to as “Este, que ves, engaño colorido,” or “This painted lie you see,” which is the poem’s first line. The original title, however, which is sometimes dropped, even in Spanish editions of the poem, is more complex. The purpose of the poem is explained in this title, which Alan Trueblood has translated as “She Disavows the Flattery Visible in a Portrait of Herself, Which She Calls Bias.” The poem is sometimes simply called Sonnet 145.
The poem, which focuses on a single painting, is written in a standard Petrarchan sonnet form: its fourteen lines are divided into two quatrains and two tercets. In Spanish, each line is composed of eleven syllables; this is known as a hendeca-syllabic line.
The first four lines, or quatrain, rhyme abba in Spanish and function as a complete clause. The poem immediately addresses a person, a “you,” who is looking at the painting that is the subject of the poem. The painting, which is a flattering portrait of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz herself, is nothing more than a “painted lie” or a “cunning deceit of the senses” because the “exquisite beauty of art” functions, in fact, through “false syllogisms of color.” The poet seems to be suggesting that art lies.
The second quatrain, following the same rhyme scheme, continues the description of the painting and further explains the...
(The entire section is 443 words.)