The elevated, idealized language that characterized romantic discourse in the nineteenth century attracted many followers but also many critics. Women writers in Latin America often portray exalted language as dangerous, misleading young women into false expectations. The following poem, published in 1876 by Silvia Fernández (Argentina, 1857-1945) pokes fun at the difference between the couple’s words and their real feelings.

What does each not understand about the other?

“Goodbye, light of my life, my beauty,
Woman with skin of roses and lilies,
My lovely angel.
Tomorrow I will return, and while I am
Away from you, pure and innocent angel,
Remember me.”

“Goodbye, absolute lord of my life,
My most beautiful and blessed hope,
Remember me.
Don’t forget that I adore you madly,
Don’t forget that your love and your tenderness
Sustain my existence.”

“This woman’s endearments bore me,
Her beauty isn’t worth two cents,
What skin! what a color!
I must tell her, with no hesitation,
That even if she is dying for love of me,
It’s all over.”

“Finally, thank God, I’m alone!
Oh! how the gallantries of that boring man
Tire me out!
He loves me to distraction, I am his greatest desire;
But I must get rid of him, even if, I fear,
He should die of sorrow.”
Translated by the Palouse Translation Project


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This is an excerpt from Reading About the World, Volume 2, edited by Paul Brians, Mary Gallwey, Douglas Hughes, Azfar Hussain, Richard Law, Michael Myers, Michael Neville, Roger Schlesinger, Alice Spitzer, and Susan Swan and published by Harcourt Brace Custom Books.The reader was created for use in the World Civilization course at Washington State University, but material on this page may be used for educational purposes by permission of the editor-in-chief:

Paul Brians
Department of English
Washington State University
Pullman 99164-5020

This is just a sample of Reading About the World, Volume 2.

Reading About the World is now out of print. You can search for used copies using the following information:Paul Brians, et al. Reading About the World, Vol. 1, 3rd edition, Harcourt Brace College Publishing: ISBN 0-15-567425-0 or Paul Brians, et al. Reading About the World, Vol. 2, 3rd edition, Harcourt Brace College Publishing: ISBN 0-15-512826-4.

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