Last January 10th marked the 65th anniversary of Gabriela Mistral’s death. A person ahead of her time, her legacy remains fully valid today, even when the world has changed significantly.
In addition to being an extraordinary poet who received the Nobel Prize for Literature, she was a great educator. She had the sensitivity to see reality with an open mind, addressing issues that called for scandal, but that for most of the society of her time were normal. Her pen and her work were her greatest weapons to denounce the reality she had to observe.
Her poem Piececitos is an observation and a cry of denunciation before the impassivity of society. It is worth rereading it a thousand times, and as a sample, here is an excerpt:
“Piececitos de niño,
bluish with cold,
how they see you, and do not cover you!
Little pieces wounded
by the pebbles all,
outraged by snow,
To appreciate and recognize Gabriela Mistral, one must place oneself in her time. Today it would be surprising to see a child with “bare feet” walking the streets or attending school like this, but a century ago it was the reality that families lived in poverty.
Figueroa, Keiko Silva and Patricia Vargas in their work Tierra, indio, mujer: Pensamiento Social de Gabriela Mistral summarize very well the validity of her legacy: “Gabriela Mistral elaborated a conception of the values that should be present in the reality of our country and America. The political, economic and cultural aspects marginalized from the dominant culture: land, Indian and woman. This made her not only a poet but also a great thinker”.
What are the “little blue feet of cold” today? How different our society would be if the majority could see what is normalized today. Girls, boys and young people are exposed to drug use and have criminal gangs as references, attending schools that do not welcome or form them; in the absence of families, either because of long working hours and mobilisation, of an unworthy salary gap, of a culture of individualism and unrestrained elitism, or because of simple abandonment.
We have a debt with Gabriela Mistral, that of becoming aware of the new “blue little feet”, denouncing it and taking action so that the girls, boys and young people of our time have the treatment they deserve and need.
65 years after your death, thank you, Gabriela Mistral for the legacy you left us that is still fully valid.