The poems turn the sonnet inside out.
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In the guise of a love poem, each is a separate reaction to the loss of love. Lines are usually made up of ten syllables. The lines scan irregularly, from thirteen to fifteen syllables. But the subversion of the traditional sonnet is mainly accomplished by use of extravagant diction and quirky grammar. The traditional sonnet usually is the development of one conceit or image. See, for example, Lope de Vega. One of his sonnets is discussed here.
Why does the narrator sing of vengeance and against whom? Why did this mean that the lover had to die? Only in the accusative is there a definitive distinction between male and female personal pronouns. There are two ways to view the poem in light of the ambiguity of these pronouns beginning with the second sonnet. If we start from the proposition that the deceased object of desire is same sex, then the obscurity of the pronouns can be seen as intentional.
There is additional evidence for this view in the use of floral images in association with the lover.
That Mistral was attempting to intentionally obscure her meaning might be supported by another observation. Nelson Rojas notes how the verbs used by the narrator carry the narrative obliquely. In the second sonnet the narrator tells what will soon happen as a result of the tiredness that envelops her. In the third sonnet, the narrator tries to explain what happened when the lover was lost and is reduced to an imprecation that the divine one intervene to either restore the lover or provide another reward to have the lover bloom in some way.
Another possibility occurs to me, however. Perhaps the confusion and ambiguity of diction is the result of the natural progression of the grieving lover. At first, she gathers her strength to do the necessaries—put her lover in a better resting place. Then she fantasizes about their reuniting in a mythical spiritual future where they will dream and chat together forever. The third sonnet, however, describes the collapse of that fantasy. But really there is no remedy, only the hope that all of this will be made right by the universe in some future time.
Elizabeth A. Latin American Studies No 1 Aug. These Mistral sonnets are so beautiful. She always defied conventions, but today she is well-known and loved in Latin America. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.
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Gabriela Mistral’s “Death Sonnets” | Hidden Cause, Visible Effects
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- Poems Cited, with Verse Translations and Commentary in: Secrets of Pinar's Game (2 vols).
Palabras de amor y de paz.