by Gabriela Mistral
translated by Langston Hughes (1957)
interpreted by Ryan Troeschel
millions of stars divine.
to the seas in love,
cradle the one who is mine.
errant wind in the night
to the winds in love,
cradle my sweet.
Our Father cradles
thousands of worlds without sound.
His hand in the darkness,
cradle the babe I have found.
Poet: Gabriela Mistral was born in northern
Chile in 1889 in a village called Montegrande and was the first Latin
American woman to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. Her parent's names
were Petronila Alcayaga, and Jeronimo Godoy Alcayaga Villanueya. Gabriela
Mistral's birth name was Lucila Godoy Alcayaga. Lucila. Their mother raised
her and her sister after the father deserted them. Lucida began school
at the age of nine, but only stayed in school for three years. She also
assumed the name Gabriela Mistral. At age sixteen she moved to La Cantera
to take a job. While in La Cantera, she fell in love with a railway worker.
The relationship didn't even last two years. The young man committed suicide.
This affected her deeply and she wrote Sonetas de la Muerte (Sonnets of
Death) to express her feelings. She published three poems from Sonnets
of Death in 1914 for which she won a national prize in poetry. She later
edited a book that was titled Readings for Women. In 1923, Mistral was
awarded the title "Teacher of the Nation" by her own government.
In 1922, she published the first volume of her collected poems entitled
Desolacion (Desolation). She then published Ternura (Tenderness) in 1925.
Her later collections were Questions (1930) and Tala (1938). She also
wrote fables and continued publishing in periodicals. The main themes
that she relayed in her poetry were love, death, childhood, maternity,
religion and the beauty of nature and of her native land. She became Chile's
representative abroad for almost twenty years, including at the League
of Nations, at the United Nations and in various consulates. Eventually,
Mistral settled in the United States and taught at Middlebury and Barnard
colleges and at the University of Puerto Rico. In 1945, Gabriela Mistral
was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She accepted it on behalf of
Latin America. Now, all of her poems have been translated into many different
languages. Gabriela Mistral died in 1957.
Vocabulary: errant - roving or wandering;
Type of poem: This is a narrative poem.
Speaker: The speaker of this poem is the
poet, Gabriela Mistral.
Audience: The poem is directed towards a general audience.
Tone: The tone of this poem is very soft
Meaning: This poem has a very strong and powerful meaning.
It talks about a woman who is cradling and rocking her child. She compares
the wind blowing the wheat to her cradling her baby. Not only does she
compare her cradling her baby to the wind and wheat, but she compares
it to God cradling the world. She feels very strong and attached to this
baby and nothing will keep her from holding it.
Structure of poem: The poem has a structure
of a traditional poem
- It's a quatrain with four stanzas
- The rhyme scheme is abcb for every stanza
- Equal stanzas (four verses per stanza)
- Some end-stopping lines and some run-on lines
Examples of poetic techniques used in the poem:
thousands of worlds without sound"
sea cradles it's millions of stars divine"
to the seas in love"
Connection between the poem and the poet's life and/or
times: Gabriela Mistral never had children of her own. She
felt that writing about them in her poetry was the closest that she would
ever be able to get to having her own children. Through this poem you
can tell that if her boyfriend had not committed suicide, she would have
wanted to have children her own children.
Most memorable quote from the poem: "I cradle the babe
I have found"
© Smelli Notes 2001