About the Author: Julia de Burgos
Julia de Burgos (1914-1953) was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, and came to New York, where she worked as a journalist, and then to Cuba, where she continued her education at the University of Havana. De Burgos, a freedom fighter, returned to New York after two years in Cuba to work as the art and cultural editor for the progressive journal Pueblos Hispanos. De Burgos’ poems deal with issues of women’s liberation and social justice, and they predate the Nuyorican poetry movement. In her poem “I was my Own Route,” de Burgos, a predecessor to contemporary Latina/o writers, portrays how women are shackled by patriarchal ideals from the past. As a result, de Burgos encourages women to separate themselves from the past to find their identity within.
I wanted to be like men wanted me to be:an attempt at life;a game of hide and seek with my being.But I was made of nows,and my feet level on the promissory earthwould not accept walking backwardsand went forward, forward,mocking the ashes to reach the kissof new paths.
At each advancing step on my route forwardmy back was ripped by the desperate flapping wingsof the old guard.
The speaker encounters several male-made social conventions as hurdles in her freshly forwarded path in the second stanza, but she overcomes all limits and old determined feet. She describes how, with her shattered heart and old blogs, she was thrown back to view the old traditional way.
But the branch was unpinned forever,and at each new whiplash my lookseparated more and more and more from the distantfamiliar horizons;and my face took the expansion that came from within,the defined expression that hinted at a feelingof intimate liberation;a feeling that surgedfrom the balance between my lifeand the truth of the kiss of the new paths.
The speaker suffers a lot in the third stanza with a sense of liberation to balance her own life to continue along the new and true path of life. She wishes to travel far into the horizons and experience all of the liberations that the male members of society have already experienced. As a result, she kisses multiple different pathways to experience various levels of freedom and joy in life.
Already my course now set in the present,I felt myself a blossom of all the soils of the earth,of the soils without history,of the soils without a future,of the soil always soil without edgesof all the men and all the epochs.
The persona finds herself in an already predetermined situation in the fourth stanza, where there is no history, future, edges, or anything else besides the world and the limitations of men and females under the shadows of males. Patriarchy has erected various barriers for women, confining them to the four walls of their homes. Her current suffering is surrounded by several difficulties and patriarchal society’s norms. It depicts a world in which women appear to have no hope.
And I was all in me as was life in me…
With the phrase “And I was all in me as was life in me…” in the fifth stanza, the speaker seeks to convey the feeling of strength that comes with choosing one’s own path. It was a great opportunity for the speaker to meet and connect with her actual selves. Her life is now completely comprehended and self-sufficient.
I wanted to be like men wanted me to be:an attempt at life;a game of hide and seek with my being.But I was made of nows;when the heralds announced meat the regal parade of the old guard,the desire to follow men warped in me,and the homage was left waiting for me.
The speaker reveals to her what she was and what the male members of the community desired her to be in the sixth stanza. Then she goes on to state that she was everything in herself because she tries so hard to be who she wants to be. Returning to the first stanza, the speaker reveals her own attempt to be different from what patriarchal society desired. She is quite depressed about the dark future ahead of her, and she is determined to overcome the difficult conditions in her life.