Gabriela Mistral is one of the conspicuous names of Latino poets. Gabriela Mistral led a vibrant life despite the tragic incidents in her life. At fifteen, she quit her formal education to look after her ill mother. But that was the period when Gabriela Mistral developed a deep relationship with her pen. This bond between writing and Mistral lasted till her last breath and resulted in many iconic pieces of poetry and prose that paved her way to the award-winning ceremony of the noble prize of literature. She was a proud noble laureate being the first Latin American female poet. She traveled across the globe as Chilean Consul and extracted the novel ideas that enriched her literary work. The agony of the death of her mother, Fiancé, and adopted nephew remained fresh in her soul. Although she appeared as a progressive lady and did wonders being an educationist, her poetry reflects a lot about the tragedies she went through. Surprisingly, motherhood and childhood are depicted in her poetic masterpieces even though marriage and motherhood were not in the ambit of her personal experiences (Miller, 2016).
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A comparison of “The sad mother” and “The fear”
In this essay, a deep analysis of her two iconic poems, “The Sad Mother” and ” The Fear,” speaks volumes about the beautiful portrayal of mother-child relationships and the challenges a mother face during various stages of life. Even though both poems have a conflict of words, the first perception of “The sad mother ” and “The Fear” implies that both poems are poles. Intimate with Mistral’s words and thoughts, the reader eventually recognizes that both poems have the same central idea.
Analysis of “The sad mother”
“The sad mother” poem of Mistral depicts a mother’s love for her newborn baby. But poem words have profound meanings.
“Sleep, Sleep, My beloved
Without worry, without fear
Although my soul does not sleep
Although I do not rest”
The readers feel that Mistral depicts the love a mother has for her child and tries to make her baby comfortable to sleep with the gentle touch of her body. By doing so, mothers also have sleepless nights. But the hidden meaning of this iconic poetry lies in the fact that after having a baby, a mother is least bothered for herself. What becomes the motive for a mother is the welfare and positive nurturing of the baby. She poured all her energy and courage into her child to make them successful in life. The sad mother poem is not about the initial few years of a child; instead, this poem travels along the long journey of a mother in which she plays an instrumental role for her child and guides the child in every black and white (Bonta, 2009).
In another verse, Mistral states that.
“May my eyes close?
May my heart sleep?”
The strenuous journey of the whole life of a restless mother meets a happy ending with the success of a child. When a child is sleeping soundly in the laps of a mother, the deep satisfaction of a restless mother is unimaginable. Similarly, the above lines suggest the level of satisfaction that a mother feels that she has done justice with her role while making her child solid and thriving in the lap of hardships of life and the world. And after that point, everything, even death, seems an easy embrace for a mother.
This great poem, written in a superb style by Gabriela Mistral, beautifully describes a mother’s concern for the wellbeing and happiness of her child. In “The sad mother,” the poem readers find an intense depiction of the utmost desire of the mother for success, peace, and fraternity of child. She only lives for her child’s wellbeing, even at the cost of her health, sleep, and money. Conversely, her poem “The Fear” elaborates on a mother’s concern about the rapid pace of her child in the race to pursue worldly goals of fame and wealth.
Analysis of “The Fear”
A deep analysis of the poem “The Fear” talks about a mother’s concern when her child gets exposed to the outer world. This poem is very relevant in the current age of the 21st century, where children become least bothered about their parents when they step ahead on the road. The main idea of the poem Fear revolves around some aspects of the modern age that have turned human beings materialistic, and the value of relationships is getting toward the low note. Even the children become too ambitious that they leave behind the most precious relationship of parents. In the poem “ The fear” Mistral advocates that worldly success and fame are pertinent, but the value of simple life and relationships is above all. Mistral has spent simple life, and the bond between her and her mother has a prolific impact on the thoughts of Mistral that appears in various colors of her poetry. In her poem “The fear” Gabriela Mistral writes about the feeling of mothers in the following words;
“I don’t want them to turn
My little girl into a swallow.
She would fly far away into the sky
And never fly again to my straw bed.”
The above lines have every element of fear, expectations, and love that is an innate behavior of the mother of any region of the world. Mothers desire to see their children successful, but there is always a fear of losing their children in the race for fame and wealth. In the above lines, a mother wishes that the external forces of media, society, and instructors may not turn her child into a swallow. Once she turns into a swallow, she will fly towards the far-flung islands of fame, wealth, and name and might not return to her simple but loving mother. She may look down upon her mother as old-fashioned and backward.
Gabriela Mistral again states the concern of a mother in the following stanza of her poem “The fear”;
“And when night came, no longer
Would she sleep at my side”?
Here in this poem, the word princess symbolizes the apex of glory and success. The mother, who is a speaker in the poem fear, is scared that if her little girl turns into a princess, she will never hug her like an ordinary girl and will never sleep with her. Further, the mother expresses that she would not be able to comb her daughter’s hair. This poem is a classic piece about the love and affectation parents have for their children, where petty things like watching their child while playing and combing hair bring immense happiness to the parents. This poem also addresses the sad realities of the modern era about the ruthless oblivious behavior of children once they learn to fly.
The core ideas of this classic piece of poetry are the value of relationship, the possessiveness of the mother for her child, and the blessings of a simple life compared to a luxurious life. Moreover, this poem also depicts the adaptability issues that parents face at old age while children find attraction in modern lines of society and parents want a traditional nucleus family. Some critiques might suggest that mothers’ fears about change are baseless. Still, trends in developed nations and the pursuit of a luxurious life conversely affirm the poem’s central idea (Sampath, 2020).
Both poems are very much relevant to the times of the 21st century. One-piece of classical art speaks volumes about a mother’s love and sacrifice, while the other exemplifies the possessiveness of a mother towards her child. Every mother’s first and last dream revolves around her child’s success and peace; however, a mother also wants her child to be with her forever. In both poems, the speaker is a mother addressing her child. Both poems are actual pictures of a mother’s care and love. Although fear has a possessive element, the element of possession does not outweigh the dire love of the mother. There is disguised care for a child in possessiveness about the light of luster of blind pursuit of wealth and worldly life. In both poems, the speaker is a mother addressing her child.
The perception of life is different from angle to angle, but the ultimate ideas are the same. Every mother wants the best for their children and sees that they grow intellectually throughout their lives. A mother in the poem Fear says that the princess’s daughter will not be able to dance on the grass with golden shoes after becoming a princess. She wants to ensure that her child’s relationship with nature, surroundings, and purity lasts as long. So that they can extract true happiness and satisfaction, as now everyone is having a race for fame and wealth with little regard for relationships and simplicity, which is turning the world into a harsh environment.
It is easy to understand the poems, but as readers of literature, you can be empathetic and decide whether that is what society is confronting and what it needs to improve the world.
Bonta, D. (2009). The Sad Mother (La Madre Triste) by Gabriela Mistral. Moving Poems.
Miller, C. E. (2016).9 Latino Poets You Should Be Reading. Bustle.
Sampath. (2020). Analysis of Fear by Gabriela Mistral.LISTPRING.