Leaves, gardens and plants: Gabriela Mistral and her unknown green side – La Tercera

Like someone who gives an account of the purchases she made in the supermarket, Gabriela Mistral wrote down in her diary, dated June 7, 1950, a short list of things she had purchased. But they weren’t cans of canning, or soda, or dairy, or cleaning supplies. They were azaleas, gardenias, a cypress and 5 white fig trees that he had acquired in the Floating Garden of Xalapa, in Veracruz, Mexico. Place where he lived for those years.

The annotation is found in notebook 57 of the so-called Gabriela Mistral Legacy, the documents of the Nobel Prize that Doris Atkinson donated to our country in 2007 and that today are available for access in the National Digital Library of Chile.

Based on these documents, which also include lectures, speeches and other writings, the Mistralian Herbarium, via Ediciones Libros del Cardo. A selection of writings that the author of the Sonnets of death made around the themes related to gardens, plants, orchards, fruit trees and flowers. The natural.

It was the prominent national poet Gladys González, who dedicated 4 years to carry out the research and selection for the project. “The creation of this book was related to a PUCV doctorate literature course directed by Hugo Herrera. The idea arose of making a cross between Emily Dickinson and the writings of nature in Gabriela Mistral, which was a project that I was carrying out for a while ”, González tells Culto.

“This project grew until it became a book, which will have a second part, due to the enormous number of newspapers, essays, prose and poems referring to flora and fauna, as well as to the cultivation and care of the garden or orchard,” he adds. This second part is projected for the second half of 2022.

Mistral touched on various themes during his career: childhood, love, religiosity, among others. Why make a compilation of his writings dedicated to “green”? González answers: “Gabriela Mistral always had a strong connection with nature, she pointed out in her texts that she needed the sky above her head to be able to write and be inspired, and that she did not require a desk but only a tablet on her knees, the rurality, animals and the mystical are also related to its political and precursor spirit ”.

“She was a naturist, practiced yoga and contemplation as an act of meditation,” adds González. In each country where he lived, he made his garden, adapting to the species of each territory and generating a relationship of complicity with the gardeners, who told him secrets to make plants grow and make them lush. She herself carried a bag with land from Montegrande on all her trips, so as not to forget her land, her childhood, her orchards, an object that is now in the Gabriela Mistral Museum in Vicuña. His love and sensitivity for creatures encompassed all kingdoms. “

Mistral took the matter so seriously that even in notebook 46 of the Legacy, from 1944, there are detailed texts on the characteristics and care of different species such as fig, banana and orange. It includes curative methods to treat eventual damage caused by fungi or other natural circumstances such as winds, frosts or droughts. In some ways, it is as if he wanted to leave for posterity a manual on how to take charge of his beloved plants.

But the native of Vicuña also used her extraordinary talent to talk about plants on other less-expected occasions. For example, for the inauguration of a library in Veracruz, on May 10, 1950, he compared the building to a garden. “A library is a nursery of fruit plants. When they are chosen well, each one of them becomes a true ‘tree of life’ where they all come to learn how to season and consummate their good ”.

Along with the archives of the Legacy, González compiled the poems that Mistral wrote on these topics and that were included in the famous books Desolation (1922), Felling (1938), Winery (1954) and the posthumous Poem from Chile (1967); in addition to a “message” that he wrote for Sur magazine, in 1945. How are these writings characterized? Gladys González responds: “There is in these poems a deep nostalgia, a desire for living memory and an exhaustive bibliographic research, there are many letters and various documents where you request, give you or lend you books on flora, fauna, plant care, ways of crops, as well as magical, esoteric and ancient tradition elements, most of which are women who carry out actions that support the common welfare ”.

“In the case of Poem from Chile She herself pointed out: ‘Our first-born obligation as writers is to deliver the native landscape to strangers’, there is a recognition of the Latin American as a place of wonders and resistance, that portrait of the vegetal also gives us a pattern of the revolutionary, from the biological, which was already present before the annihilation of millenary civilizations in the territory we inhabit – adds González. His links with peasant women, indigenous women and childhood give an account of this holistic message from nature, without which we would not exist. “

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Leaves, gardens and plants: Gabriela Mistral and her unknown green side – La Tercera