Research Article

Gabriela Mistral: Nourished by and Constructed from the Sap and Blood of Life


  • Linda J. Rice James S. Reid Professor of Humanities and Professor of English, Ohio University, Athens, OH, USA


Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) was the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and was a mentor to Pablo Neruda who also went on to become a Nobel laureate, yet Mistral’s work is rarely studied in English translation today. This article aims to bring attention to the author’s life and legacy, particularly through her diplomatic work and writing, with an emphasis on Mistral’s poetry in the hope of returning Gabriela Mistral to a place of distinction and standing that encourages future reading and study. Illustrative of the author’s voice, excerpts of Mistral’s work are woven throughout. The article traces key moments in Mistral’s life from childhood in the Elqui Valley of Chile through her years as a rural schoolteacher and onward to her position as a leader in education reform in Mexico. Through both her writing and diplomatic work, Mistral gained worldwide prominence. Her work through the League of Nations demonstrated an ongoing concern for human rights and especially for the rights of children and women in poverty and in the workplace. She was instrumental in the founding of the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and an advocate for writers and artists and their crucial role in illuminating important societal issues. The article highlights Mistral’s 1937 talk before the Committee on Letters and Arts in Paris and addresses her connection with Pablo Neruda and the story of Juan Miguel, whom she adopted and called Yin-Yin; Yin-Yin died tragically at age seventeen. Finally, the article provides an overview of the life influences, themes, and timing of each of Mistral’s four major collections of poetry in their English translation by Doris Dana (1971): Desolation (1922), Tenderness (1924), Felling (1938) and Wine Press (1954).

Article information


International Journal of Literature Studies

Volume (Issue)

4 (2)





How to Cite

Rice, L. J. (2024). Gabriela Mistral: Nourished by and Constructed from the Sap and Blood of Life. International Journal of Literature Studies, 4(2), 06–20.



Gabriela Mistral, Chilean poets, Latin American poets, Nobel Prize for Literature, Pablo Neruda