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MISTRAL, Gabriela

The Song You Loved

Life of my life, what you loved I sing.

If you’re near, if you’re listening,

think of me now in the evening:

shadow in shadows, hear me sing.

Life of my life, I can’t be still.

What is a story we never tell?

How can you find me unless I call?

Life of my life, I haven’t changed,

not turned aside and not estranged.

Come to me as the shadows grow long,

come, life of my life, if you know the song

you used to know, if you know my name.

I and the song are still the same.

Beyond time or place I keep the faith.

Follow a path or follow no path,

never fearing the night, the wind,

call to me, come to me, now at the end,

walk with me, life of my life, my friend.

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!

The Shining Host

In vain you try

To smother my song:

A million children

In chorus sing it

Beneath the sun!

In vain you try

To break my verse

Of affliction:

The children sing it

Under God!

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!

Dame la mano

Dame la mano y danzaremos;

dame la mano y me amarás.

Como una sola flor seremos,

como una flor, y nada más...

El mismo verso cantaremos,

al mismo paso bailarás.

Como una espiga ondularemos,

como una espiga, y nada más.

Te llamas Rosa y yo Esperanza;

pero tu nombre olvidarás,

porque seremos una danza

en la colina y nada más...

Geef me je hand en we zullen dansen;

Geef me je hand en je zal van me houden.

Als één enkele bloem zullen we zijn,

als één bloem, en niets meer...

We zullen hetzelfde vers zingen,

in dezelfde pas zal je dansen.

Als een korenaar zullen we golven,

als een korenaar, en niets meer.

Jouw naam is Roos en ik heet Hoop;

maar je zal je naam vergeten,

omdat we één dans zullen zijn

op de heuvel en niets meer...

(Vertaling Z. DE MEESTER)

Give me your hand and we shall dance;

give me your hand and you shall love me.

Like one flower we shall be,

like a flower, and nothing more . . .

We shall sing the same verse,

you shall dance at the same pace.

Like one ear of wheat we shall wave

like one ear of wheat, and nothing more.

Your name is Rose and mine is Hope,

but you shall forget your name,

because we shall be one dance

on the hill and nothing more .

(Translation: Z. DE MEESTER)

Mis libros / My Books

Books, silent books of the shelves,

alive in your silence, burning in your stillness;

books, those who console us, are the velvet of the soul,

and although being so sad they give us joy!

On a busy day, my hands surrendered;

but, upon the arrival of night they look for them, lovingly,

in the space on the wall from where as faces

those who lived look at me reassuringly.

Bible, my noble Bible, wonderful outlook,

where my eyes long rested,

you have in your Psalms the most ardent lava

and in your river of fire I light up my heart!

You sustained my people with strong wine

and upheld them amongst men,

and my fortitude comes just by saying your name,

because I come from you, I have broken my Fate.

After you, only the great Florentine,

with his wide shriek pierced through my bones.

Towards his voice, as a reed, I still lean;

Through his fantastic inferno like redness, I go through.

And to refresh in dew covered moss

the lips, burned again in the Dantesque like flames

I search fort he Little Flowers of Assisi, always fresh
and on that sweet velvet my chest remained!


   La bruma espesa, eterna, para que olvide dónde

me ha arrojado la mar en su ola cae salmuera.

La tierra a la que vine no tiene primavera:

tiene su noche larga que cual madre me esconde.

   El viento hace a mi casa su ronda de sollozos

y de alarido, y quiebra, como un cristal, mi grito.

Y en la llanura blanca, de horizonte infinito,

miro morir inmensos ocasos dolorosos.

   ¿A quién podrá llamar la que hasta aquí ha venido

si más lejos que ella sólo fueron los muertos?

¡Tan sólo ellos contemplan un mar callado y yerto

crecer entre sus brazos y los brazos queridos!

   Los barcos cuyas velas blanquean en el puerto

vienen de tierras donde no están los que son míos;

sus hombres de ojos claros no conocen mis ríos

y traen frutos pálidos, sin la luz de mis huertos.

   Y la interrogación que sube a mi garganta

al mirarlos pasar, me desciende, vencida:

hablan extrañas lenguas y no la conmovida

lengua que en tierras de oro mi vieja madre canta.

   Miro bajar la nieve como el polvo en la huesa;

miro crecer la niebla como el agonizante,

y por no enloquecer no cuento los instantes,

porque la noche larga ahora tan sólo empieza.

   Miro el llano extasiado y recojo su duelo,

que vine para ver los paisajes mortales.

La nieve es el semblante que asoma a mis cristales;

¡siempre será su albura bajando de los cielos!

   Siempre ella, silenciosa, como la gran mirada

de Dios sobre mí; siempre su azahar sobre mi casa;

siempre, como el destino que ni mengua ni pasa,

descenderá a cubrirme, terrible y extasiado.


The seafoam, endless, thick, so I couldn’t find

the line where the sea dashed its wave at me.

The land I came to doesn’t have spring:

it has its long night, in which I find no mother.

The wind at my house makes its round of laments

and howling; breaks, like a mirror, my shout.

And in the white prairies, the infinite horizon,

I gaze at the dying of immense sorrowful sunsets.

What to call her, she who has come

so far that only the dead have gone further?

The dead, so alone, study an ocean hushed and grow stiff,

frozen the arms of the dead, in the arms of those they love.

The ships whose sails fly white in the harbor

come from lands where my loved ones never have been;

their bright-eyed men don’t know my rivers

and bring forth pale fruits without the light of my orchards.

And the question that rises in my throat

upon seeing them pass, falls, conquered:

they speak strange tongues and are not moved

by the words that my ancient mother sings in lands of gold.

I watch the snow as if the dust of graves;

I watch the mist form and grow like death throes,

and so as not to go mad I don’t count the seconds,

because the long night now so lonely begins.

I watch the entraptured prairie, gather to me its pain,

I that came to see the mortal lands.

The snow is the semblance that appears in my mirror;

its whiteness will ever be, ever under the heavens!

Ever, she, grandly silent, like the lofty gaze

of God upon me; ever her bridal wreath laid over my house;

ever, like a fate that never fades nor comes to pass,

she will descend to cover me, terrible and ecstatic.

Mapuches / Araucaos

We’re passing, passing

through the old Araucanía

that we neither see nor mention.

Without knowing it, we’re passing

through a kingdom of the forgotten,

who we deride as banal mestizos

or fantasies, although our faces

continue to declare them present.

Something’s approaching, coming near

like a fast word—

not a fleeing stag

but an alarmed Indian woman.

Carrying a little Indian boy on her back,

she keeps flying. Panic!

—Tell me, why does she run away,

shrouding her face?

Call her, bring her back, run,

for she looks like my mum.

—She won’t come back, little one,

she passed like a ghost.

Running after her, no one will catch up.

She fled because she saw

strangers, white people.

Little one, listen: they were

owners of forest and mountain,

of all the eye can see

and all the eye can’t reach,

of herbs, of fruits,

of Araucanian air and light,

until the arrival of those owners

of horses and rifles.

—Don’t talk about it now, no,

shout, whistle, bring her back.

—She’s already lost, my son,

swallowed up in the Forest-Mother.

Why are you crying? You’ve seen her,

though not a trace of her remains.

—Say what they’re called, say it.

—They’ve even lost their name.

They’re called Mapuches

and what they don’t want

is to see us, to hear us talk.

They were dispossessed

but they are the Old Country,

our first birth-cry

and our first word.

They’re a long, ancient chorus

that sings or laughs no more.

Name them yourself, say it with me:


Keep going: they fell.

Say more: tomorrow they will return.

Leave it there, one day you’ll see her

returned and transfigured,

coming down from Quechua country

to Mapuche country,

to look and to remember

and to embrace in silence.

They could never meet

to look into the other’s eyes,

to love each other and to trace

the shapes of their souls

on their faces.