Gabriela Mistral

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    Biographical information

  1. Ballad
  2. Close To Me
  3. Decalogue Of The Artist
  4. I Am Not Alone
  5. Little Feet
  6. Pine Forest
  7. The Guardian Angel
  8. The House
  9. The Sad Mother
  10. The Teacher's Prayer
  11. To See Him Again
  12. We Were All To Be Queens




    Biographical information

      Name: Lucila Godoy Alcayaga
      Pen name: Gabriela Mistral
      Place and date of birth: Vicuña (Chile); April 7, 1889
      Place and date of death: New York (USA); January 10, 1957 (aged 67)

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      Ballad

        He passed by with another;
        I saw him pass by.
        The wind ever sweet
        And the path full of peace.
        And these eyes of mine, wretched,
        Saw him pass by!

        He goes loving another
        Over the earth in bloom.
        The hawthorn is flowering
        And a song wafts by.
        He goes loving another
        Over the earth in bloom!

        He kissed the other
        By the shores of the sea.
        The orangeblossom moon
        Skimmed over the waves.
        And my heart's blood did not taint
        The expanse of the sea!

        He will go with another
        Through eternity.
        Sweet skies will shine.
        (God wills to keep silent).
        And he will go with another
        Through eternity!

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      Close To Me

        Little fleece of my flesh
        That I wove in my womb,
        Little shivering fleece,
        Sleep close to me!

        The partridge sleeps in the clover
        Hearing its heart beat.
        My breathing will not wake you.
        Sleep close to me!

        Little trembling blade of grass
        Astonished to be alive,
        Don't leave my breast.
        Sleep close to me!

        I who have lost everything
        Am now afraid to sleep.
        Don't slip away from my arms.
        Sleep close to me!

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      Decalogue Of The Artist

        I. You shall love beauty, which is the shadow of God over the Universe.

        II.There is no godless art. Although you love not the Creator, you shall bear witness to Him creating His likeness.

        III.You shall create beauty not to excite the senses but to give sustenance to the soul.

        IV. You shall never use beauty as a pretext for luxury and vanity but as a spiritual devotion.

        V. You shall not seek beauty at carnival or fair or offer your work there, for beauty is virginal and is not to be found at carnival or fair.

        VI. Beauty shall rise from your heart in song, and you shall be the first to be purified.

        VII. The beauty you create shall be known as compassion and shall console the hearts of men.

        VIII. You shall bring forth your work as a mother brings forth her child: out of the blood of your heart.

        IX. Beauty shall not be an opiate that puts you to sleep but a strong wine that fires you to action, for if you fail to be a true man or a true woman, you will fail to be an artist.

        X. Each act of creation shall leave you humble, for it is never as great as your dream and always inferior to that most marvelous dream of God which is Nature.

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      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!

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      Little Feet

        Little feet of children
        Blue with cold,
        How can they see you and not cover you
        Dear God!

        Little wounded feet
        Cut by every stone,
        Hurt by snow
        And mire.

        Man, blind, does not know
        That where you pass,
        You leave a flower
        Of living light.

        And where you set
        Your little bleeding foot,
        The spikenard blooms
        More fragrant.

        Walking straight paths,
        Be heroic, little feet,
        As you are
        Perfect.

        Little feet of children,
        Two tiny suffering jewels,
        How can people pass
        And not see you!

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      Pine Forest

        Let us go now into the forest.
        Trees will pass by your face,
        and I will stop and offer you to them,
        but they cannot bend down.
        The night watches over its creatures,
        except for the pine trees that never change:
        the old wounded springs that spring
        blessed gum, eternal afternoons.
        If they could, the trees would lift you
        and carry you from valley to valley,
        and you would pass from arm to arm,
        a child running
        from father to father.

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      The Guardian Angel

        It's true, it isn't a story;
        There is a Guardian Angel
        Who takes you and carries you like the wind
        And goes with children wherever children go.

        He has soft hair
        That blows in the wind.
        He has grave sweet eyes
        That quiet you with a look
        And destroy your fears with their brightness.
        (It isn't a story, it's true).

        He has a body, hands and winged feet,
        Six wings that soar and glide,
        Six wings that carry you through wingthrashed air
        Though you may sleep.

        He makes the ripe fruit sweeter
        That streams from your honeyed lips;
        He cracks the nut from its crafty shell
        And sets you free from gnomes and witches.

        It is he who helps you cut roses
        That sit in a snare of thorns,
        And carries you over treacherous waters
        And lifts you up the steepest crag.

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      The House

        The table, son, is laid
        With the quiet whiteness of cream,
        And on four walls ceramics
        Gleam blue, glint light.
        Here is the salt, here the oil,
        In the center, bread that almost speaks.
        Gold more lovely than gold of bread
        Is not in broom plant or fruit,
        And its scent of wheat and oven
        Gives unfailing joy.
        We break bread, little son, together
        With our hard fingers, our soft palms,
        While you stare in astonishment
        That black earth brings forth a white flower.

        Lower your hand that reaches for food
        As your mother also lowers hers.
        Wheat, my son, is of air,
        Of sunlight and hoe;
        But this bread, called 'the face of God',
        Is not set on every table.
        And if other children do not have it,
        Better, my son, that you not touch it,
        Better that you do not take it
        With ashamed hands.

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      The Sad Mother

        Sleep, sleep, my beloved,
        without worry, without fear,
        although my soul does not sleep,
        although I do not rest.

        Sleep, sleep, and in the night
        may your whispers be softer
        than a leaf of grass,
        or the silken fleece of lambs.

        May my flesh slumber in you,
        my worry, my trembling.
        In you, may my eyes close
        and my heart sleep.

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      The Teacher's Prayer

        Lord, you who taught, forgive me that I teach; forgive me that I bear the name of teacher, the name you bore on earth.

        Grant me such devoted love for my school that not even beauty's flame will detract from my faithful tenderness.

        Master, make my fervor longlasting and my disillusion brief. Uproot from me this impure desire for justice that still troubles me, the petty protest that rises up within me when I am hurt. Let not the incomprehension of others trouble me, or the forgetfulness of those I have taught sadden me.

        Let me be more maternal than a mother; able to love and defend with all of a mother's fervor the child that is not flesh of my flesh. Grant that I may be successful in molding one of my pupils into a perfect poem, and let me leave within her my deepestfelt melody that she may sing for you when my lips shall sing no more.

        Make me strong in my faith that your Gospel is possible in my time, so that I do not renounce the daily battle to make it live.

        Let your luminous radiance descend upon my modest school as it did upon the barefoot children who surrounded you.

        Make me strong even in my weakness as a woman, and particularly as a poor woman. Make me scorn all power that is not pure, and all duress that is not your flaming will upon my life.

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      To See Him Again

        Never, never again?
        Not on nights filled with quivering stars,
        or during dawn's maiden brightness
        or afternoons of sacrifice?

        Or at the edge of a pale path
        that encircles the farmlands,
        or upon the rim of a trembling fountain,
        whitened by a shimmering moon?

        Or beneath the forest's
        luxuriant, raveled tresses
        where, calling his name,
        I was overtaken by the night?
        Not in the grotto that returns
        the echo of my cry?

        Oh no. To see him again --
        it would not matter where --
        in heaven's deadwater
        or inside the boiling vortex,
        under serene moons or in bloodless fright!

        To be with him...
        every springtime and winter,
        united in one anguished knot
        around his bloody neck!

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      We Were All To Be Queens

        We were all to be queens
        Of four kingdoms on the sea:
        Efigenia with Soledad,
        And Lucila with Rosalie.

        In the Valley of Elqui, encircled
        By a hundred mountains or more
        That blaze red like burnished offerings
        Or tributes of saffron ore,

        We said that, enraptured,
        And believed it perfectly,
        That we would all be queens
        And would one day reach the sea.

        With our braids of sevenyearolds
        And bright aprons of percale,
        Chasing flights of thrushes
        Among the shadows of vine and grape.

        And our four kingdoms, we said,
        So vast and great would be,
        That as certain as the Koran
        They would all reach the sea.

        We would wed four husbands
        At the time when we should wed,
        And they would all be kings and poets
        Like King David of Judea.

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