Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz on Saint Catherine of Alexandria

De una Mujer se convencen
todos los Sabios de Egipto,
para prueba de que el sexo
no es esencia en lo entendido.
¡Víctor, víctor!
Prodigio fue, y aun milagro;
pero no estuvo el prodigio
en vencerlos, sino en que
ellos se den por vencidos.
¡Víctor, víctor!
¡Qué bien se ve que eran Sabios
en confesarse rendidos,
que es triunfo el obedecer
de la razón el dominio!
¡Víctor, víctor!
Las luces de la verdad
no se obscurecen con gritos;
que su eco sabe valiente
sobresalir del ruido.
¡Víctor, víctor!
No se avergüenzan los Sabios
de mirarse convencidos;
porque saben, como Sabios,
que su saber es finito.
¡Víctor, víctor!
Estudia, arguye y enseña,
y es de la Iglesia servicio,
que no la quiere ignorante
El que racional la hizo.
¡Víctor, víctor!

The learned men of Egypt
by a woman have been vanquished,
to demonstrate that sex
is not the essence of intelligence.
Victory! Victory!

A wonder it was, a miracle—
the wonder being not the fact
that she has triumphed over them,
but that they would admit defeat.
Victory! Victory!

How well we see that they were wise
in admitting they were beaten:
it is a triumph to concede
the supremacy of reason.
Victory! Victory!

All the clarity of truth
cannot be shouted down,
for its echo, brave and long,
surmounts the noisy crowd.
Victory! Victory!

The learned men think it no shame
that she has convinced them,
for they have learned, as learned men,
their learning has its limits.
Victory! Victory!

She studies, and disputes, and teaches,
and thus she serves her Faith;
for how could God, who gave her reason,
want her ignorant?
Victory! Victory! 

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
VI, Villancicos a Santa Catarina de Alejandría (Carols to Saint Catherine of Alexandria), 1691
Translated by Electa Arenal and Amanda Powell

Published by Catherine Addington

I am a translator from Spanish to English and a writer on saints, myths, and icons in both religious and secular contexts.

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