Gabriela Mistral(1922): Poems

Gabriela Mistral, a Nobel laureate, is one of Chile's most distinguished writers. After an early love affair, tragically ended by the untimely death of her lover, she lived a life of self-described desolation, yearning for, but never experiencing motherhood. She turned her personal tragedy into beautiful poetry which offers intellectual and spiritual love, compassion, and courageous nurturance to others, especially children or others in need of protection.

What contrast is the poet drawing between the "deserted" world and her own state? Why is she "not alone?"


I Am Not Alone

The night, it is deserted
from the mountains to the sea.
But I, the one who rocks you,
I am not alone!

The sky, it is deserted
for the moon falls to the sea.
But I, the one who holds you,
I am not alone !

The world, it is deserted.
All flesh is sad you see.
But I, the one who hugs you,
I am not alone!


Gabriela Mistral: Tiny Feet (1922)

How does the poet make the child's tiny feet express its suffering?


A child's tiny feet,
Blue, blue with cold,
How can they see and not protect you?
Oh, my God!

Tiny wounded feet,
Bruised all over by pebbles,
Abused by snow and soil!

Man, being blind, ignores
that where you step, you leave
A blossom of bright light,
that where you have placed
your bleeding little soles
a redolent tuberose grows.

Since, however, you walk
through the streets so straight,
you are courageous, without fault.

Child's tiny feet,
Two suffering little gems,
How can the people pass, unseeing.
Translated by Mary Gallwey


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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:

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