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HUMAN RHYMES
from the Span­ish of Lope de Vega

A woman, for a man, is all that’s best;
yet all that’s worst, though it may sound insane.
She is his life, the prize he has to gain;
she is the poi­son lay­ing him to rest.

Like gen­tle heaven to his eyes, and blest,
yet she and hell are on a sin­gle plane.
Although I sing her virtues, in the main,
when she is false to man I must protest.

She gives us blood. She raises us from birth.
There’s noth­ing more ungrate­ful under God.
She is a harpy with an angel’s worth.

She loves, she hates, she makes us lose and win.
In short, she’s like a let­ting of the blood
that some­times cures us, some­times does us in.


(orig­i­nally pub­lished in The Evans­ville Review, Vol­ume XVI, 2006)