Madwomen: The “Locas Mujeres” Poems of Gabriela Mistral

I discovered Gabriella Mistral through Pablo Neruda. Like her famous countryman, Mistral won the Nobel prize. Also like Neruda, her poems were lyrical and personal. But in this collection (I have a bilingual edition), written later in her life, she displays a hard and complex view of life that I find appealing. It’s too early to tell but for me she might be the better Chilean poet.

Here are the first three stanzas of the opening poem, “The Other”:

I killed a woman in me:
one I did not love.

She was the blazing flower
of the mountain cactus;
she was drought and fire
never cooling her body.

She had stone and sky
at her feet, at her shoulders,
and she never came down
to seek the water’s eye.