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Poetry Analysis Notes


Cradle Song
by Gabriela Mistral
translated by Langston Hughes (1957)
interpreted by Pierce Han

The sea cradles
its millions of stars divine.
Listening to the seas in love,
I cradle the one who is mine.

The errant wind in the night
cradles the wheat.
Listening to the winds in love,
I cradle my sweet.

God Our Father cradles
His thousands of worlds without sound.
Feeling His hand in the darkness,
I cradle the babe I have found.

Poet: Gabriela Mistral’s real name is Lucila Godoy Alcayaga. She was born in 1889 in Vicuna, Chile. She died in 1957. She is a Chilean poet and stateswoman. Mistral had her reasons for changing her name. She was a very young teach and she feared the loss of this job due to the content of her poetry. She is named after the archangel Gabriel and her last name comes from the name of a sea wind. She had the honor of being the first South American to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945. She has written “Desolation”, 1922, “Tenderness”, 1924, “Destruction”, 1938, and “The Wine Press”, 1954. She also wrote the Selected Poems of
Gabriela in 1957, A Gabriela Mistral Reader in 1992, and The Mothers’ Poems in 1996. “Cradle Song” is one of many poems about children and motherhood in which she has written, (p.650 Prentice Hall Literature Gold and Encarta).

Vocabulary: errant - roving or wandering; shifting about.

Type of poem:

Speaker: Gabriel Mistral, the poet

Reader, general audience

Tone: Loving, compassionate

This poem mainly portrays love for a child within the poet herself and through God. It moves from intimate love of her child to love for all human kind by God. A perfect example is “Listening to the winds in love, I cradle my sweet” and “God our Father cradles His thousands of worlds without sound.” She also compares the vastness of space with all
of its stars with the sea. She says, “The sea cradles its millions of stars divine.” Over and over again it talks about holding her baby and cradling it. It just goes back to the theme of love. It is full of warmth and emotion.

Structure of poem: - Traditional
· Rhyming
· Equal Stanza Lengths

Examples of poetic techniques used in the poem:

"His thousands of worlds without sound" Alliteration
"The sea cradles it's millions of stars divine" Run-on line
"Listening to the seas in love" Personification

Connection between the poem and the poet's life and/or times: This poem is all about love. Through most of Mistral’s poetry, she usually incorporates the theme of children and motherhood. Her poetry, including this poem, deals with variations of love. In this poem it moved from the intimate love of her child with the love of all of humanity by God. This poem is just full of compassionate warmth and emotion; always portraying love. This poem has a huge connection with her poetry writing because this poem resembles all of her other poems. They seem to have the same central theme of love. This poem is a perfect
example of how she writes; she incorporates variations of love and has the theme of children with motherhood.

Most memorable quote from the poem:
"God our father cradles His thousands of worlds without sound"

© Smelli Notes 2001