PRAISE OF LITTLE WOMEN
by: Juan Ruíz (1283?-1350?)
- WISH to make my sermon brief,--to
shorten my oration,--
- For a never-ending sermon is my utter detestation;
- I like short women,--suits at law without procrastination,--
- And am always most delighted with things of short duration.
- A babbler is a laughing-stock; he's a fool who's always grinning
- But little women love so much, one falls in love with sinning.
- There are women who are very tall, and yet not worth the
- And in the change of short for long repentance finds beginning.
- To praise the little women Love besought me in my musing;
- To tell their nobler qualities is quite beyond refusing;
- So I'll praise the little women, and you'll find the thing
- They are, I know, as cold as snow, whilst flames around diffusing.
- They're cold without, whilst warm within the flame of Love
- They're gay and pleasant in the street,--soft, cheerful,
- They're thrifty and discreet at home,--the cares of life
- All this and more;--try and you'll find how true is my presaging.
- In a little precious stone what splendor meets the eyes!
- In a little lump of sugar how much of sweetness lies!
- So in a little woman love grows and multiplies;
- You recollect the proberb says,--"A word unto the Wise."
- A pepper-corn is very small, but seasons every dinner
- More than all other condiments, although 'tis sprinkled thinner;
- Just so a little woman is, if Love will let you win her,--
- There's not a joy in all the world you will not find within
- And as within the little rose you find the richest dyes,
- And in a little grain of gold much price and values lies,
- As from a little balsam much odor doth arise,
- So in a little woman there's a taste of paradise.
- Even as a little ruby its secret worth betrays,
- Color and price and virtue, in the clearness of its rays,--
- Just so a little woman much excellence displays,
- Beauty and grace and love and fidelity always.
- The skylark and the nightingale, though small and light of
- Yet warble sweeter in the grove than all the birds that sing;
- And so a little woman, though a very little thing,
- Is sweeter far than sugar and flowers that bloom in spring.
- The magpie and the golden thrush have many a thrilling note,
- Each as a gay musician doth strain his little throat
- A merry little songster in his green and yellow coat;
- And such a little woman is, when Love doth make her dote.
- There's nought can be compared to her, throughout the wide
- She is a paradise on earth,--our greatest consolation,--
- So cheerful, gay and happy, so free from all vexation;
- In fine, she's better in the proof than in anticipation.
- If as her size increases are woman's charms decreased,
- Then surely it is good to be from all the great released.
- Now of two evils choose the less--said a wise man of the
- By consequence, of woman-kind be sure to choose the least.
--Translated by H.W. Longfellow
POEMS BY JUAN RUÍZ
"Praise of Little Women"
is reprinted from Hispanic Anthology: Poems Translated from
the Spanish by English and North American Poets. Ed. Thomas
Walsh. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1920.