Do you remember when you first met her?
Yes. It was at Barnard College
in Columbia University.
What was her role in Barnard?
She held a Visiting Professorship.
That is a long way from
teacher’s assistant in Chile.
True. But she had drive.
Did she ever tell you how she
became a teacher’s assistant?
Yes. Her father abandoned her
and her mother.
She took the job to support them.
It must have been a rough life.
She never complained about it.
How did she move from a
teacher’s assistant in Chile
to a Visiting Professor at Barnard.
She started writing poetry
while a teacher’s assistant.
And then she won some local and national
That doesn’t seem to answer the ‘great leap.’
No. You are correct. It doesn’t.
First, in 1923, she won
the Chilean National Teachers award.
She was able to slowly move up through
a graduated series of colleges in Chile,
finally becoming a professor.
What would you consider her
I do not know this for sure
but I always surmised that
it was the suicide of her lover.
When did that occur?
When she was in her teens.
Did she ever tell you who that was?
Yes. I have it here in my notes – – –
Yes, here it is.
His name was Romelio Ureta.
Do you know anything about him?
She said he worked on the railroad.
I have no idea what he did.
Do you think it was the abandonment
by her father or the death of her lover
that defined her most?
Possibly the series of painful things
that occurred in her life.
There were other events?
She lost a nephew to suicide.
She told me that she thought of him
as her son; it changed her outlook on life.
How did the death of her lover manifest itself?
She started her signature work
“Sonnets of Death.”
That was the work that earned her the
Juegos Florales prize; correct?
And then she went on to win
the Nobel Prize in Literature.
What year was that?
She was an ambassador also?
She represented Chile as consul in
Brazil, Spain, Portugal and the US.
How old was she when she died?
Had she returned to Chile
before her death?
No. She died in Hempstead, Long Island.
And the year?
January 7, 1957
Lucila de María del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga
Psuedonym: Gabriela Mistral
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?
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!