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Gabriela Mistral The Foreigner Translated by Arthur McHugh
Gabriela Mistral was the pseudonym of Lucia Godoy y Alcayaga, a Chilean writer. She was born in 1889 in a village in the High Andes. She worked as a schoolteacher until her poetry made her famous, and she was then able to influence education policies both in Chile and Mexico. She taught Spanish Literature at several American universities, and in 1945 was awarded a Nobel Prize. She died in 1957. Mistral / McHugh
She talks with an accent of her savage seas that have who-knows-what kind of seaweed and sand; she says a prayer to God without form or weight looking old, old, as if she was going to die. That garden of ours, which she made odd to us, has produced cactus and grasses that scratch you. Her breathing is the breath of the wilderness, she has loved with a passion that makes her blanch, which she never mentions and which would be like the map of another star if she told us. She will live among us for eighty years, but she will always be as if she had just arrived, speaking a gasping, whining sort of language that only little animals understand. One night when she is suffering more, she will die among us, with only her destiny for a pillow: her death will be hushed, foreign.