The Sonnets of Death


From that frozen niche the men have put you,
I will lower you down to the humble, sunny earth.
That I have to sleep there, the men do not know,
and that we must dream on the same pillow.

I will lay you in the sunny earth with the
sweetness of a mother for her sleeping child,
and the earth must be the soft cradle
to receive your broken childlike body.

Then I will sprinkle earth and rose dust,
and in the bluish, faint moon dust,
your light remains will become imprisoned.

I will leave singing my beautiful vengeance
for the hand of no other woman will
descend to such depths to fight me for
your handful of bones!


One day, this long weariness will be greater,
and the soul will tell the body that it doesn’t wish to continue
dragging its mass along the frosted road
to where the men go, content to live…

You will regret that you dig deeply with such spirit,
that another dreamer comes to the quiet city.
I will wait until they have covered me completely…
and then we will speak for an eternity!

Only then will you know why, immature,
(for in those depths, your flesh still dreams)
you had to descend, without fatigue, to sleep.

There will be light in the place of destiny, obscured;
You will know our new covenant was a sign of the stars
and, having broken that enormous pact, you had to die…


Wicked hands took your life from day
as, from a sign of the stars, I left your crib
in a snow of lilies. In joyful bloom.
Wicked hands tragically entered it…

And I said to God “The paths you take
mortals on. Beloved shadow who knows not how to guide!
Tear him out, Lord, from those fatal hands
or sink him in the long sleep that you can give!

“I can’t shout to him, I can’t pursue him!
Your ship pushes a black wind storm.
Return him to my arms or remove him from the flower.”

He stopped the pink boat of his life…
Don’t you know of love, didn’t you have pity?
You are going to judge me, you know it, Lord!

By Gabriela Mistral
translated, from the Spanish, by Amanda Martin Sandino

Amanda Martin Sandino is a recent graduate of the M.A. in Cultural Studies program at the University of Washington, Bothell and current MFA student in Writing at UC San Diego. Her poetry is available for viewing at the Northwest Comedy Network, Clamor Literary Arts Journal, the 3:15 Experiment, and her personal blog.

One of two Nobel Prize winning poets of Chile, Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) was a poet, educator, activist, feminist, and diplomat.