“At this moment, by an undeserved stroke of fortune, I am the direct voice of the poets of my race and the indirect voice for the noble Spanish and Portuguese tongues.”–Gabriela Mistral
Lucila Goday y Alcayaga was born one this day in Vicuña , Chile in 1889.
Daughter of a poet and school teacher, Juan Gerónimo Godoy Villanueva, and a seamstress, Petronila Alcayaga, she was raised in a small Andean village. The family lived in poverty, a situation that worsened when her father left when Lucila was three. She was close to her older sister, Emelina Molina, who was also her teacher.
Despite having only a few years of formal education, she became a teacher’s aide at 15 to help support her family. As a teacher she had a number of positions in rural Chilean towns. By 1912 she was teaching at the high school level. Her star as an educator continued to rise, in 1921, she became the director of Santiago’s Liceo (high school) #6, the best girls’ school in Chile. She went on to help reform the Mexican education and library system.
A poet all her life…
“At age sixteen she moved to La Cantera to take a job and fell in love with a young railway worker. The relationship didn’t last and two years later the young man committed suicide. The only item found in his possession was a postcard from Mistral. This affected her deeply and she wrote Sonetas de la Muerte (Sonnets of Death) to express her feelings.” [Distinguished Women.com]
Lucila took the pen name Gabiela Mistral. Her poems reflected her experiences in life. When she “…was appointed director of a secondary school for girls located in rural Punta Arenas. The rough terrain of Punta Arenas became an inspiration for a series of poems entitled Patagonian Landscapes.“[ Ibid]
Her time in Mexican inspired Readings for Women
“The dominant themes in her poetry were love, death, childhood, maternity, religion and the beauty of nature and of her native land. She also had a burning desire for justice.”[Ibid]
Major works include:
- Sonetos de la muerte (1914)
- Desolación 1922
- Ternura 1924
- Tala 1938
She was the first Latin American and (so far is) the only Latin American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
At the time of her death in 1957, her poems had been translated into English, French, German, Swedish and Italian.
by Gabriela Mistral
The treasure at the heart of the rose
is your own heart’s treasure.
Scatter it as the rose does:
your pain becomes hers to measure.
Scatter it in a song,
or in one great love’s desire.
Do not resist the rose
lest you burn in its fire.
Click HERE to go to Poem Hunter.com and read more of Mistral’s works.