Things by Gabriela Mistral is beautifully written, however, the translation is a little confusing. I enjoyed reading my poem but I did have to look up what a few of the words used to find out what they mean. It was almost as if Ursula K. Le Guin used the more elaborate version of some of the words just to make the poem stand out and feel more sophisticated.  I also ended up googling the poem in hopes to find a version that translated slightly better.

Mistral’s poem reminded me a little about the cycle of life a human goes through. The beginning was very childish. In one of the stanzas, Mistral talks about her childhood and mentions a poem told to her when she was seven. As the poem goes on, there is mention of the river she’s been hearing for forty years and a fallen tree. She mentions that the fallen tree is a tree or her father. I think her father has passed. When trees have fallen, it is the end of their life.

The ending to the poem is rather dark. Mistral lets a stone uncovered by dirt in the night while she sleeps. In the last stanza, Mistral states that the stone had never belonged to her because nature does not belong to one person in particular. Then, it’s back to the subject of death and a grave site. The last two stanzas do mention death a decent amount, which could mean that she is old now and accepting death slowly because it is bound to happen.

Mistral sees the land as something one cannot own. One may experience nature and become fully immersed but there is no such thing as ownership. People own things, but not the environment that they live in. The river is not owned by anyone, nor is the garden or stories of others. Nature takes over the river and garden, allowing them to become their own souls.

50 Replies to “Mistral”

  1. I also think it’s interesting how Mistral reacts to the stone, like she’ll give herself up to the earth when the time comes. She is sad of what has become of her childhood home but is ready to accept death when it comes.
    “A broken scent breaks through in bursts.
    I feel so happy when I can feel it;
    It is thin and barely there,
    a bit like the scent of almond trees.
    It changes my senses into children;
    I search to find a name for it
    but still I never get it right.
    I seek those almond trees
    but still I never find them.”
    These two stanzas about chasing a childhood scent, a phantom scent, are really well written but also really sad. It makes me nostalgic for the past as well.

  2. Abby,
    I think you did as best as you could trying to interpret the poem and I think a lot was lost in translation but you did good! You got a central idea of what the poem is supposed to be about and I like how you had different outlooks on some of her stanzas.

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