Olivia kates

La Madre Triste by Olivia Kates

La Madre Triste de Gabriela Mistral
Duerme, duerme, dueño mío,
sin zozobra, sin temor,
aunque no se duerma mi alma,
aunque no descanse yo.

Duerme, duerme y en la noche
seas tú menos rumor
que la hoja de la hierba,
que la seda del vellón.

Duerma en ti la carne mía,
mi zozobra, mi temblor.
En ti ciérrense mis ojos:
¡duerma en ti mi corazón!


Mistral’s subversive political motives cloaked by elegantly expressive language captivated me– particularly in regards to her notion of motherhood. ‘La Madre Triste’, or, ‘The Sad Mother’ best embodies Mistral’s capacity for beautiful compositions maintained alongside her stylized manner of expression, allowing variations in interpretation and emotion of the reader.

The poem expresses the anguish and sacrifice of a mother who wishes comfort for their child, regardless of the suffering it may cost her. The three stanza poem constructs a separation of “I”, the mother, and “you”, the child”, evoking the reader’s experience of the mother’s pain shrouded in optimism for her child and the future.

The distress of motherhood is a theme that has a growing sentimentality for myself as both an adoptee and as a woman. Understanding the contextual climate in which Mistral wrote ‘La Madre Triste’ has allowed me to form parallels to that of the undesirable conditions that I have emerged from. While adoption allowed me a second chance for better opportunities at an early age, these benefits do not neglect the struggle and loss experienced by my mother, as well as the countless other women experiencing loss. ‘La Madre Triste’ not only empathizes with the sorrowful mother, but praises her strength and selflessness in an oppressive circumstance (such as women’s healthcare in Latin America)- a notion capable of comprehension by not only those identifying as mothers, but by women, and by people, everywhere.

From a young age, I have sought the many literary masters of Chile such as Neruda, Allende, and Bolaño, in hopes of gaining a stronger sense of the culture from which I emanate. I found most comfort and personal sentiment in Gabriela Mistral’s social, political, and emotionally driven writings. Mistral’s work addresses themes of love, sorrow, motherhood, and oppression, pairing her lyrical verses with strong political beliefs in hopes for change in the future of Latin America.

Keep up with Olivia and follow her work at @oliviakates or visit her site oliviakates.com