From Me to Death

In honor of Chilean Independence Day, we present this work of independence by one of Chile’s great poets.

Guillermo Blest Gana
1829 – 1904


I observed when you snatched viciously me away
my loved ones, and then I judged you:
relentless like misfortune, inexorable
like pain and cruel like the doubt…

But today that you, cold, mute, approach me
without hate and without love, neither sullen nor affable,
my spirit greets your majesty
of the unfathomable and your eternity.

I, without the impatience of the suicide,
neither the dread of the happy, nor the inert fear
of the criminal, I await your coming;

that equal to everyone’s luck is my fortune:
if nothing is expected of life,
something must be expected from death.

Small Prophecies

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 90th birthday.

Delia Domínguez
b. 1931


Tomorrow, a God I don’t know
will offer me salvation if I don’t blindfold my soul
as your shadow passes by.

Tomorrow, a mist
will rise from the cornfields
and we’ll know another season is upon us
because our clothing will stick to our ribs,
and you’ll depart forever
like those visitors from the city
who don’t know the sense of belonging or the scent of rotting leaves
—or even less—
the desolation of the hillsides
after an infernal rain.

Tomorrow I’ll be silent,
turned toward my solitary pillow
like a schoolgirl punished in the farthest corner of the world,
while the nettles at the back of the garden
will open their milky buttons in the midst of this silence
when it’s all much too late.


Translation by Robert Gordenstein and Marjorie Agosín

Antique Scene with Malopoeia

We present this work in honor of the 70th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Winétt de Rokha
1892 – 1951


A cave, with stalactites and stalagmites,
all white, like the index finger of the morning.
A tapestry, blood-spattered, repetitive,
my slipper but one seed in the watermelon.

Every eye doubles itself in the little mirrors of my toe-nails;
my arms fall, lift themselves, and fall again through autumn.

The word becomes a butterfly of the night,
bats its wings, stops, opens itself to unforeseen pearls —
catches at an echo that rolls slowly
away, dividing and dividing again, and chases after its own flight
like the mane of a comet as it dissolves.


Translation by J. Mark Smith

The Water

06-17 Arteche
Miguel Arteche
1926 – 2012


I woke up at midnight
the whole house set sail.
In the early morning,
there was rain with rain.
The house was in silence,
the mountains restrained,
that night, one could hear
but the falling rain.
I saw me that night
searching vents in vain;
at home, and the world,
no brothers, mum, friends.
The space was dark, cold,
and cold the ship stayed
with me. Who moved all
lonely candle flames?
No one told me, go,
No one told me, stay,
inside, within me,
Home, I left away.
She saw who I was,
she seemed far someday.
I couldn’t lean back
on the pillow’s surface.
That midnight I searched
while the house sailed straight.
Above the world hearing
but the fall of rain.


Translation by Walter Hilliger

To See Him Again

Gabriela Mistral
1889 – 1957


Never, never again?
Not on nights filled with quivering stars,
or during dawn’s maiden brightness
or afternoons of sacrifice?

Or at the edge of a pale path
that encircles the farmlands,
or upon the rim of a trembling fountain,
whitened by a shimmering moon?

Or beneath the forest’s
luxuriant, raveled tresses
where, calling his name,
I was overtaken by the night?
Not in the grotto that returns
the echo of my cry?

Oh no. To see him again —
it would not matter where —
in heaven’s deadwater
or inside the boiling vortex,
under serene moons or in bloodless fright!

To be with him…
every springtime and winter,
united in one anguished knot
around his bloody neck!

(to the smell of misfortune)

We present this work in honor of Chilean Independence Day.

Rosabetty Muñoz
b. 1960


The aridity of the gardens
finally tired them all.
Nothing, not even carrots
would grow in that rocky soil.

Breaking your back for
a fistful of herbs.

And the flowers? You’ll say.
And those huge dahlias, like trees?
Don’t remind me of those carnivores.
They seemed to shine their petals
to the smell of misfortune.
They grew
moved their stamens
as we steadily fell.

Self-Portrait of Adolescence

Pablo de Rokha
1894 – 1968


Among green snakes and verbenas,
my status of a tame lion
has a lackluster buzz of hives
and a bark of burned ocean.

With ghosts and chains that cling
I’m a rotten religion and a fallen king,
or a feudal castle whose battlements
raise your name like golden bread.

Towers of blood on battlefields,
Smell of heroic sun and shrapnel,
of the sword of a terrified nation.

They are heard in my being, full of the dead
and wounded, of ashes and deserts,
where a great poet commits suicide.

The Bloody Fight Has Ceased

We present this work in honor of the 110th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Eusebio Lillo
1826 – 1910



The bloody fight has ceased;
and yesterday’s invader is now our brother;
three centuries we washed the affront
fighting in the field of honor.
That who yesterday was a slave
is free and triumphant today;
freedom is the heritage of the brave,
Victory lies shameful to his feet.


Rise, Chile, with a spotless forehead;
you conquered your name on the fight;
always noble, constant and courageous
the children of the Cid found you.
May your free calmly crown
the arts, industry and peace,
and may they sing songs of your triumph
to intimidate the daring despot.


Your names, brave soldiers
who have been Chile’s mainstay,
they are engraved in our chests;
our children will know them as well.
May they be the death cry
that comes out when we march to the fight,
and ringing in the mouth of the strong
they always make the tyrant tremble.


If the foreign cannon intends
to invade, daring, our people;
let’s draw our arms
and know victory or death.
With its blood the proud Araucanian
inherited its courage to us;
and the sword doesn’t tremble in the hand
of that who defends the honor of Chile.


How pure, Chile, is your blue sky
And how pure the breezes that blow across you
And your countryside embroidered with flowers
Is a wonderful copy of Eden
How majestic are the snow-covered mountains
That were given to you by God as protection
And the sea that tranquilly bathes your shores
Promises future splendor for you


That pride, oh, Homeland!, those flowers
growing on your fertile soil,
may they never be stepped on by invaders;
may your shadow cover them with peace.
Our chests will be your bastion
in your name we will know how to win,
or your noble, glorious emblem
will see us fall in the fight.

Beloved Homeland, receive the vows
That Chile gave you on your altars
That you be either the tomb of the free
Or a refuge from oppression

The Hospital, One Afternoon

Carlos Pezoa Veliz
1879 – 1908


Athwart the fields the drops are falling,
Softly, gently, on the plains;
And through the drops a grief is calling,—
It rains.

Alone amid my sick-ward spacious
Where I my bed of weakness keep,
There’s naught to fight my grief voracious,
But sleep.

But mists are gathering around me
With choking hold upon my veins;
I wake from out the sleep that bound me—
It rains.

Then, as if in my final anguish,
Before the landscape’s mighty brink,
Amid the mists that fall and languish,
I think.