Celebrating Poet Gabriela Mistral during National Poetry Month

Image credit: gabrielamistralfoundation.org
Gabriela Mistral (April 7, 1889 – January 10, 1957) was the pseudonym of Lucila Godoy de Alcayaga, a Chilean poet-diplomat, educator and humanist. In 1945 she became the first Latin American author to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature, for her lyric poetry which was inspired by powerful emotions. Some central themes in her poems are nature, betrayal, love, a mother's love, sorrow and recovery, travel, and Latin American identity as formed from a mixture of Native American and European influences.

In 1904 Mistral published some early poems, such as Ensoñaciones ("Dreams"), Carta Íntima ("Intimate Letter") and Junto al Mar ("By the Sea"), in the local newspaper El Coquimbo: Diario Radical, and La Voz de Elqui using a range of pseudonyms and variations on her civil name.

The poet's second major volume of poetry, Tala, appeared in 1938, published in Buenos Aires with the help of longtime friend and correspondent Victoria Ocampo. The proceeds for the sale were devoted to children orphaned by the Spanish Civil War. This volume includes many poems celebrating the customs and folklore of Latin America as well as Mediterranean Europe.

Today, as we celebrate the birthday of Gabriela Mistral during National Poetry Month, we are featuring her poem, Those Who Do Not Dance.

Those Who Do Not Dance
By Gabriela Mistral

A crippled child
Said, “How shall I dance?”
Let your heart dance
We said. 

Then the invalid said:
“How shall I sing?”
Let your heart sing
We said 

Then spoke the poor dead thistle,
But I, how shall I dance?”
Let your heart fly to the wind
We said. 

Then God spoke from above
“How shall I descend from the blue?”
Come dance for us here in the light
We said. 

All the valley is dancing
Together under the sun,
And the heart of him who joins us not
Is turned to dust, to dust. 

Poem source: poemhunter.com/