I spotted this image in a museum in Key West. It was captioned:

Juana Label.jpg

“Poetress,” with an R: That’s a new one.

I can find a little biographical information about Juana Borrero, including the fact that she died at age 18 after experiencing two major love relationships, becoming known as both a poet and painter, and creating a substantial body of literary correspondence, but it’s hard to find actual poems in English.

So here is one in Spanish, followed by my fumbling translation:


Todo es quietud y paz… En la penumbra
se respira el olor de los jazmines,
y, más allá, sobre el cristal del río
se escucha el aleteo de los cisnes
que, como grupo de nevadas flores,
resbalan por la tersa superficie.
Los oscuros murciélagos resurgen
de sus mil ignorados escondites,
y vueltas mil, y caprichosos giros
por la tranquila atmósfera describen;
o vuelan luego rastreando el suelo,
rozando apenas con sus alas grises
del agrio cardo el amarillo pétalo,
de humilde malva la corola virgen.


All is stillness and peace…In the gloom

you breathe the odor of the jasmines,

and, beyond, on the glass of the river

you hear the flutter of the swans

which, like a group of snow flowers,

slide along the smooth surface.

The dark bats emerge

from their thousand ignored hiding places,

and make a thousand turns, and capricious twists

that describe the tranquil atmosphere

or fly then, tracing the floor,

barely skimming with their grey wings

the sour thistle’s yellow petal,

the humble mallow, its virgin corolla.