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Wednesdays Wise Woman … Gabriela Mistral

April 25, 2012

Drops of gal / Gotas de heil

Don’t sing: your tongue
always remains bound to a song:
the one that should be surrendered

Don’t kiss: by a strange curse
the kiss that does not reach
the heart , remains

Pray, for prayer is sweet
but know that your greedy tongue
stumbles over the only ‘Our Father’
that might save you.

Don’t call death kind,
for within its immense white flesh
a live fragment will remain and feel
that stone that smothers you
and the voracious worm that unbraids your hair.
While I was away I hoped I could research Cecilia Meireles, unfortunately due to technical and a profound language barrier this didn’t happen. So my blog was a little half hearted. My daughter (and I) recognised a short fall here so she will in time use her skills and interest in the subject and attempt to translate at least one of her well known works and search out her archive should one exist. I in the meantime will research a little more in the UK; . I came across one book in English the Poem itself by Stanley Burnshaw. It is a collection of European and South American poets which includes a couple by Cecilia and only available in the States so I have ordered a copy. I am hoping it will have a good bibliography and some further reading.
Meanwhile I came across another woman who rose from humble beginnings and despair and found political acclaim and notoriety, writing poetry. Gabriela Mistral was born in Vicuna in northern Chile in 1889. Her parents were school teacher, her father left while she was very young so after she was tutored by her mother and step-sister who was also teacher at fourteen she became a teacher herself. Her career was successful in several notable high schools. In 1922, she and was seconded by the Mexican minister of education, José Vasconcelos to assist him in his reform program. The following year she became the Chilean ‘teacher of the year’
While Mistral was committed to diplomatic duties- she was an honorary consul in Madrid, Lisbon, Nice, Brazil, and Los Angeles. She travelled extensively throughout the Europe and Latin America as a representative to the League of Nations and the United Nations fighting for the rights of women and children.
Before and during this time Mistral, who was mixed Basque and Diagura read widely and wrote potent and personally sensitive poetry expressing her concerns for indigenous and mestizo and their place in Latin America .
In 1945 she was the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in literature
She died in New York of Pancreatic Cancer in 1957.

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