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God bless, Mistress. On his way out he puts the rose over his ear, whistling gaily. His eyes are all sparks when he goes to the mill. And he comes back with a jolly exhaustion rolling round his loins. Is this, living? The mistress, with her eyes pinned to the wall. You, always quiet in a corner. And those dear children, trained to make no noise as if always barefoot.
Remembrance is better in silence. On the other side of the window every day the sun shines. Air out all the linen growing cold in that dusty chest. Not even the sun has the right to disturb her room. That dust is the one thing I have left from her last day with us. I rather have it stinging my flesh than forget about it like you all do.
But he always brought me the first bunch of grapes from the vineyard. And in the seven years we were together he gave me seven sons. Seven men. Each one expresses himself in his own way. He was upright. But every year he gave out blossoms. To me! I lost all my seven the same day. With dirt in their eyes and all black with soot they brought them out of the mine. One by one I washed the seven bodies.
Was I going to cover my head with a shawl and sit at the door mourning just because? I mourned them on my feet, working. Her voice falters. Bluntly swipes a tear with the tip of her apron and goes on clearing the table. Lowers her voice. Yours rest in the ground, where grass and crops grow. Mine is in the water.
Can you kiss the water? Can you hug or cry over her grave? The best swimmers dived down to the deepest part. The Deep Hole is bottomless. The Scriptures say it, "Man is dust and to dust shall return. Onstage he puts on his fleece-lined coat, which he takes down from a nail on the wall. Is the mare ready? Telva puts the tablecloth away and takes dishes to the kitchen. Eight bullocks with tender hooves and saffron heads that will be the pride of the fair. I fed them salt from my hand as yearlings. I want to brand them myself.
Have you forgotten what day it is today? Looks at Grandfather and Telva. Both lower their heads. Martin understands and lowers his too. I see. Sitting quietly by me is all I ask. The foreman is waiting for me. Angelica was your sweetheart two years, but your wife only three days. Too little time for love.
La Mujer del Silencio (Spanish Edition)
And why, when the whole town was searching for her, did you stay home all tensed up behind close doors? Moves closer. Exits determinedly to the stockyard. Like an open sore in the raw all the time. You too? No one loves her anymore. No one. Sits back down, dropping heavily on the seat. Telva sits at her side with the basket of peas between them. Offstage, the dog barks. Beads slip through your fingers while your thoughts fly. Pause while both shell. Must be a pilgrim. He knows the town folk at a distance. Like pilgrims. The heavy doorknocker sounds. Telva looks at the Mother, hesitantly.
Telva opens the upper part of the door and the Pilgrim Lady is seen. Are you looking for lodging? The lodge is on the other side of the river. Pilgrims are entitled to a fire, and they bring blessings to the house that welcomes them. The Pilgrim Lady comes in. Telva closes the door. LADY Rather the strength to keep on going. Long roads make a person hungry and thirsty. LADY Thank you.
The fire will do. Sits down by the fire. Did you see the smoke out the chimney? LADY No. I saw children at the window. Homes with children are always warm. Pulls back her hood, showing a pale and beautiful face with a serene smile. Why are you staring at me? Do I remind you of someone? And you? Your eyes are going to grow wide if you keep looking at me like that.
Too shy to come closer? Not me. They are younger. We never saw a pilgrim before.
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In pictures, with something around their heads. Like saints. Saints are old and bearded. Grandpa says all things beautiful come from far away. LADY Smiles and fondles his hair. Thank you, little one.
Women will love listening to you when you grow up. Scans the house. Grandchildren, grandfather, and a fire going—a happy home. Do you know him? LADY I heard of him as a hot-blooded young man, gallant at fairs and the best rider in the sierras. The door was left open. You can hear her neighing in the fields.
Kicko left her here saddled up. The one saddled up is Whitefours. Stands up determinedly. Oh, no, you are not riding that wild bundle of nerves that bolts at the slightest flash! Some time has to be the first time. Where is the spur? The roads are slippery with frost and the Rabion Pass is always dangerous. Do you want to keep me in a corner too, like your children? Telva and Grandfather keep quiet. The Pilgrim Lady simply takes the spur down from the fireplace. LADY Is this it? Excuse me for raising my voice. Looks at the others questioningly. LADY They welcomed me to the fire.
Kneels down. May I? Fits the spur on him. They gaze at each other quietly for a moment, she still on her knees. So they say. I may not see you again. They exit with Martin. To make them come this way you better tell them go that way. Men are for the outdoors and horses. Only a daughter fills the house. Stands up. If you want to stay here till morning you are welcome to whatever you need.
LADY I need only some time to rest. I have to keep going. Going up. Praying is like screaming under your breath. Pause while she exits. The dog barks again. Telva, through with shelling peas, starts knitting. LADY How do you call the dangerous pass in the sierra?
The Rabion Pass is by the large chestnut tree, right? The one struck by lightning a hundred years ago but still there, a gnarled burnt trunk fast rooted into the rock. Just passing by. Where did I see you before?
If you were young and handsome, fine, but old men all look the same. When were you in town before? LADY Last time, it was a day of great celebration. Bagpipes, tambourines. From all roads couples on horseback were coming down with green boughs. Picnic tablecloths spread out all over the green. My God, what a bash. They poured the barrels of hard cider in jets. Villagers from all over came to Big Meadow to dance Giraldillas. LADY I saw it from a distance. I was passing through the woods. And before that? LADY I remember another time.
A winter day. Snow was falling so thick there was no trace of the roads. This looked like a village of dwarfs: White chimneys as hoods, icicles as beards. Never another like it. Much earlier? LADY Remembering with effort. Before… It was so long ago I hardly remember. A thick smoke hung in the air. Acrid, it hurt the throat. Men were running, all tense. Doors stayed open in the night.
In the houses women were wailing. Our Lady of Blessed Memories, deliver me from that one. You grow up faster in bed. The lady has seen so many things! LADY You! You are still small. Better a small man than a big woman. Grandpa says so. Very devils. Give them a hand, and see how fast they take hand and foot. To bed, I said!
On top of it all, undermine my authority and set them a bad example. Exits grumbling. He spoke well who said, "What do you think the monks do, if the abbot plays poker? The way is mapped in the skies with stardust. Children ask more than a sage can answer. Seeing her crossing her hands inside the sleeves. The fire is getting low. Are you still cold? LADY My hands are always cold.
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Exits to the stockyard. The children rush to surround the pilgrim lady. Angelica knew hundreds of stories. Even with music. The way she told them was like seeing everything. And the one about the girl fighting in the war dressed as a man. The whole town loved her. But one night she went down the river. But I can learn if you teach me. They surround her excitedly. To the lady. Turn your head that way. No cheating, uh? The Pilgrim Lady covers her eyes with her hands while they whisper, heads touching. First, we sit on the floor.
All do. Now each one says it first and everyone repeats it. The one that gets it wrong loses, all right? ALL All right. They start a nursery game alternating solo and chorus, mimicking exaggeratedly what the words describe. The leader in turn stands up. The others respond and mimic in unison, sitting in a circle. This is the cork corking the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home. This is the cap capping the cork corking the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home.
ANDREW This is the cutter cutting the cap capping the cork corking the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home.
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CHORUS This is the cutter cutting the cap capping the cork corking the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home. And this is a drunkard nabbing the cutter, cutting. Bursts into laughter. The Pilgrim Lady laughs harder and harder till she drops. The children do likewise. LADY Her laughter goes on a disturbing crescendo to a convulsive guffaw scaring stiff the little ones, who stare at and move away from her. Taken aback by her own outburst, eventually she controls herself.
What am I doing? LADY Laughter? Stands up with effort. How odd. Quakes of joy dart inside me like squirrels in a hollow tree. It crackles round the waist. It weakens the knees. The children go closer, again at ease. LADY Never. Tests her hands. Funny, it warmed up my hands. What throbs in my wrists?
What beats in here? LADY Almost afraid. Staggers, fatigued. What a delicious fatigue. I never imagined laughing was so powerful. Do you want to sleep? LADY Later. When the clock chimes nine I have to be awake. Takes her to the big chair by the fire. Come, sit down here. Puts her finger on her lips. The children pay attention and look at each other. LADY I wish it was. How heavy my lids are. Sits down, exhausted. Do you want me to say them to you? LADY Say them. At nine. Recites slowly. LADY Barely audible by now.
After all her walking she must be exhausted. He is carrying the logs and dry branches. To bed now. We have to wake her up at the stroke of nine. Take them with you, Telva. Get going Goes upstairs with them. And so nice. Her eyes look so sad. Exits with the children.
He stares at the sleeping lady, trying to remember. Where have I seen her before? And when? Sits down and rolls a cigarette. The clock starts chiming nine. The Pilgrim Lady, as in automatic response to a call, makes a weak effort to straighten up. A distant lightning flash dazzles. She remains asleep. Offstage the dog whines. At the last chime of the clock falls the. The Pilgrim Lady is still asleep. Grandfather goes closer, stares at her again, struggling to remember. The lady remains still. Telva appears at the top of the stairs. Grandfather steps away and with his lighting steel lights the cigar that has gone out in his mouth.
Grandfather bids her to silence. She lowers her voice. Damn brats. How quick their heads get full of fancies. That she wears a gold dress under her wrap. Who knows. Sometimes a child sees further than we grown ups do. I also feel something mysterious entered here with her. In old heads flights of fancy go ahead. What next. I keep my soul in my soul case and my eyes well planted in my face.
La Dama del Silencio
Never got drunk on tales. Turns the wick up in the lamp, so the scene is lighted up anew. I like people with a plucky stride and straight talk. Looks at him. Something wrong, sir? You quivered like a baby. My thoughts frighten me. Half our troubles come from our head. Takes her knitting again and sits down. When a thought bothers me, I pick up my knitting or start singing— miracle cure. Help me remember, Telva. When did the woman say she was here before? Next morning they found him dead among the sheep.
His shirt was frozen hard as an icicle. Poor man. He looked like a big Saint Christopher, with his staff and his oakum beard. But when he played his pipes, birds perched on his shoulders. She just saw it from a distance. The blacksmith promised to hunt a deer for the newlyweds.
When he bent down to drink from the creek his gun went off and he bled to death in the stream. And the boys found out when the fountain water began turning red. Suddenly uneasy, stops her knitting and stares at him. What are you getting at with all this? And when the siren sounded the emergency and women were wailing and screaming in their homes? The day the gas exploded in the mine. Your seven sons, Telva!
Where are the children? Pushes her toward the stairs. Lock doors and windows. Keep them warm—with your body if you have to. No matter who knocks, let no one in. Oh, Lord, deliver them from evil. Now I know where I saw you. Shakes her by the arms forcefully. Wake up, bad dream. Wake up! LADY Opening her eyes slowly. Who is it? Remember when the gas exploded in the mine? I was in it too. With fallen rubble on my chest and choking smoke in my throat. You thought my time had come and got too close. When fresh air rushed in at last, I had seen your pale face and felt your icy touch.
LADY Serenely. I knew this was coming. Those who see me up close once, never forget me. Do you want me to shout your name all over town and have hounds and rocks thrown at you? In Tala Mistral includes the poems inspired by the death of her mother, together with a variety of other compositions that do not linger in sadness but sing of the beauty of the world and deal with the hopes and dreams of the human heart. These poems are divided into three sections: "Materias" Matter , comprising verse about bread, salt, water, air; "Tierra de Chile" Land of Chile , and " America.
These poems exemplify Mistral's interest in awakening in her contemporaries a love for the essences of their American identity. After living for a while in Niteroi, and wanting to be near nature, Mistral moved to Petropolis in , where she often visited her neighbors, the Jewish writer Stefan Zweig and his wife. The suicide of the couple in despair for the developments in Europe caused her much pain; but the worst suffering came months later when her nephew died of arsenic poisoning the night of 14 August For Mistral this experience was decisive, and from that date onward she lived in constant bereavement, unable to find joy in life because of her loss.
Although it was established by the authorities that the eighteen-year-old Juan Miguel had committed suicide, Mistral never accepted this troubling fact. In her pain she insisted on another interpretation, that he had been killed by envious Brazilian school companions. She never brought this interpretation of the facts into her poetry, as if she were aware of the negative overtones of her saddened view on the racial and cultural tensions at work in the world, and particularly in Brazil and Latin America, in those years.
In "Aniversario" Anniversary , a poem in remembrance of Juan Miguel, she makes only a vague reference to the circumstances of his death:. This poem reflects also the profound change in Mistral's life caused by her nephew's death. She composed a series of prayers on his behalf and found consolation in the conviction that Juan Miguel was sometimes at her side in spirit. In her sadness she only could hope for the time when she herself would die and be with him again. Despite her loss, her active life and her writing and travels continued. She was still in Brazil when she heard in the news on the radio that the Nobel Prize in literature had been awarded to her.
It was , and World War II was recently over; for Mistral, however, there was no hope or consolation. She traveled to Sweden to be at the ceremony only because the prize represented recognition of Latin American literature. In the same year she published a new edition of Ternura that added the children's poems from Tala , thus becoming the title under which all of her poems devoted to children and school subjects were collected as one work.
As a consequence, she also revised Tala and produced a new, shorter edition in Minus the poems from the four original sections of poems for children, Tala was transformed in this new version into a different, more brooding book that starkly contrasts with the new edition of Ternura. While the first edition of Ternura was the result of a shrewd decision by an editor with expertise in children's books, Saturnino Calleja in Madrid, these new editions of both books, revised by Mistral herself, should be interpreted as a more significant manifestation of her views on her work and the need to organize it accordingly.
Mistral liked to believe that she was a woman of the soil, someone in direct and daily contact with the earth. In all her moves from country to country she chose houses that were in the countryside or surrounded by flower gardens with an abundance of plants and trees. She had a similar concern for the rights to land use in Latin America, and for the situation of native peoples, the original owners of the continent.
After two years in California she again was not happy with her place of residence and decided in to accept the invitation of the Mexican president to establish her home there, in the country she loved almost as her own. Her failing health, in particular her heart problems, made it impossible for her to travel to Mexico City or any other high-altitude cities, so she settled as consul in Veracruz. The Mexican government gave her land where she could establish herself for good, but after building a small house she returned to the United States.
War was now in the past, and Europe appeared to her again as the cradle of her own Christian traditions: the arts, literature, and spirituality. For a while in the early s she established residence in Naples, where she actively fulfilled the duties of Chilean consul. These duties allowed her to travel in Italy, enjoying a country that was especially agreeable to her. In part because of her health, however, by she was back in the United States. This time she established her residence in Roslyn Harbor, Long Island, where she spent her last years.
These two projects--the seemingly unending composition of Poema de Chile , a long narrative poem, and the completion of her last book of poems, Lagar Wine Press, --responded also to the distinction she made between two kinds of poetic creation. In the first project, which was never completed, Mistral continued to explore her interest in musical poetry for children and poetry of nature. Both are used in a long narrative composition that has much of the charm of a lullaby and a magical story sung by a maternal figure to a child:.
The delight of a Franciscan attitude of enjoyment in the beauty of nature, with its magnificent landscapes, simple elements--air, rock, water, fruits--and animals and plants, is also present in the poem:. The aging and ailing poet imagines herself in Poema de Chile as a ghost who returns to her land of origin to visit it for the last time before meeting her creator. Inspired by her nostalgic memories of the land of her youth that had become idealized in the long years of self-imposed exile, Mistral tries in this poem to conciliate her regret for having lived half of her life away from her country with her desire to transcend all human needs and find final rest and happiness in death and eternal life.
In characteristic dualism the poet writes of the beauty of the world in all of its material sensuality as she hurries on her way to a transcendental life in a spiritual union with creation. Poema de Chile was published posthumously in in an edition prepared by Doris Dana. This edition, based on several drafts left by Mistral, is an incomplete version.
A book written in a period of great suffering, Lagar is an exemplary work of spiritual strength and poetic expressiveness. In Lagar Mistral deals with the subjects that most interested her all of her life, as if she were reviewing and revising her views and beliefs, her own interpretation of the mystery of human existence.
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As in previous books she groups the compositions based on their subject; thus, her poems about death form two sections--"Luto" Mourning and "Nocturnos" Nocturnes --and, together with the poems about the war "Guerra" , constitute the darkest aspect of the collection. At the other end of the spectrum are the poems of "Naturaleza" Nature and "Jugarretas" Playfulness , which continue the same subdivisions found in her previous book. Other sections address her religious concerns "Religiosas," Nuns , her view of herself as a woman in perpetual movement from one place to another "Vagabundaje," Vagabondage , and her different portraits of women--perhaps different aspects of herself--as mad creatures obsessed by a passion "Locas mujeres," Crazy Women.
Indicative of the meaning and form of these portraits of madness is, for instance, the first stanza of "La bailarina" The Ballerina :. In Mistral had received the Chilean National Prize in literature, but she did not return to her native country until , when Lagar was published in Santiago. She had not been back in Chile since , and this last, triumphant visit was brief, since her failing health did not allow her to travel much within the country. The following years were of diminished activity, although she continued to write for periodicals, as well as producing Poema de Chile and other poems.
Late in she was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. A few weeks later, in the early hours of 10 January , Mistral died in a hospital in Hempstead, Long Island. Her last word was "triunfo" triumph. After a funeral ceremony at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, the body of this pacifist woman was flown by military plane to Santiago, where she received the funeral honors of a national hero.
Following her last will, her remains were eventually put to rest in a simple tomb in Monte Grande, the village of her childhood. Almost half a century after her death Gabriela Mistral continues to attract the attention of readers and critics alike, particularly in her country of origin. Her poetic work, more than her prose, maintains its originality and effectiveness in communicating a personal worldview in many ways admirable. The strongly spiritual character of her search for a transcendental joy unavailable in the world contrasts with her love for the materiality of everyday existence.
Her poetic voice communicates these opposing forces in a style that combines musicality and harshness, spiritual inquietudes and concrete images, hope and despair, and simple, everyday language and sometimes unnaturally twisted constructions and archaic vocabulary. In her poetry dominates the emotional tension of the voice, the intensity of a monologue that might be a song or a prayer, a story or a musing. Prose Home Harriet Blog. Visit Home Events Exhibitions Library. Newsletter Subscribe Give.
Poetry Foundation. Back to Previous. Gabriela Mistral. They called me thus, because I did not act my age: I did not sew, I did not darn, I had a vague gaze, I asked for stories, narrative poems, and I did not wash the dishes. And, above all, because I spoke thus, in rhyme.
The land I have come to knows no spring: it has its long night that like a mother hides me. The woodsman forgot them. The night Will come. I will be with them. In my heart I will receive their gentle Sap. They will be like fire to me. And may the day find us Quietly embraced in a heap of sorrow. Mis sollozos le han llamado tal vez; tal vez quiera salir por ver mi cara My father said he would get rid of me, yelled at my mother that he would throw me out this very night.
The night is mild; by the light of the stars, I might find my way to the nearest village; but suppose he is born at such a time as this? My sobs perhaps have aroused him; perhaps he wants to come out now to see my face covered with tears. They did not know I would fall asleep on it, and that we would dream together on the same pillow. I shall leave singing my beautiful revenge, because the hand of no other woman shall descend to this depth to claim from me your fistful of bones!
Por la ventana abierta la luna nos miraba. His mother was late coming from the fields; The child woke up searching for the rose of the nipple And broke into tears. I took him to my breast And a cradlesong sprang in me with a tremor. Through the open window the moon was watching us. The baby was asleep, and the song bathed Like another light, my enriched breast. Explaining her choice of name, she has said: Siento un gran amor por el viento. I take it for one of the most spiritual of the elements--more spiritual than water.