The love poems in memory of the dead, Sonetos de la muerte (1914), made her known throughout Latin America, but her first great collection of poems, Despair, was not published until 1922. Gabriela Mistral played an important role in the educational systems of Mexico and Chile, was active in cultural committees of the League of Nations, and was Chilean consul in Naples, Madrid, and Lisbon.She was born in Vicuña, Chile. The daughter of a dilettante poet, she began to write poetry as a village schoolteacher after a passionate romance with a railway employee who committed suicide. She taught elementary and secondary school for many years until her poetry made her famous. She held honorary degrees from the Universities of Florence and Guatemala and was an honorary member of various cultural societies in Chile as well as in the United States, Spain, and Cuba.
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.
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.
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!