Jan 23 2017

Gabriela Mistral – Those Who Do Not Dance

Published by at 10:27 am under Poetry

Those Who Do Not Dance
by Gabriela Mistral

English version by Helene Masslo Anderson

A crippled child
Said, “How shall I dance?”
Let your heart dance
We said.

Then the invalid said:
“How shall I sing?”
Let your heart sing
We said

Then spoke the poor dead thistle,
“But I, how shall I dance?”
Let your heart fly to the wind
We said.

Then God spoke from above
“How shall I descend from the blue?”
Come dance for us here in the light
We said.

All the valley is dancing
Together under the sun,
And the heart of him who joins us not
Is turned to dust, to dust.

/ Image by tasiaraye /

I thought this poem might be a good choice in honor of the weekend’s Women’s Marches across the world.

With this poem, the great Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral, through simple language, is exploring how we move beyond our assumed limitations and express joy, creativity, life. How do we dance when the body does not respond? When we have grown dry and prickly and lost most of our substance, is it possible we can fly? Even God, at least the God of our imaginations, needs an invitation in which we gather together in the light.

The more we remember, as we see our limitations as new pathways rather than roadblocks, we begin to come alive, reconnect, and dance, until all valley is in movement with us under the sun.

Recommended Books: Gabriela Mistral

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral

Gabriela Mistral, Gabriela Mistral poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Gabriela Mistral

Chile (1889 – 1957) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic
Christian : Catholic

Gabriela Mistral is one of the great Chilean poets of the 20th century. She started writing poetry as a young schoolteacher when a romance ended tragically with the young man’s suicide. She continued to teach and write until her poetry gained national and international attention.

Her poetry often explores themes of childhood, love, and loss. But, as you can see in several of these poems, her work often reaches inward to a deep sense of inner awakening.

More poetry by Gabriela Mistral

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Gabriela Mistral – Those Who Do Not Dance”

  1. Olga T.on 23 Jan 2017 at 10:59 am

    Ivan, I like the contrast you have created by posting these two poems at the same time. It is up to us to choose which way we want to “dance”. Thank you.

  2. jim carlinon 23 Jan 2017 at 12:40 pm

    a Grand Master Ballerina who defected from Russia with his company was asked
    “why do you dance?” He said “I have no words-that is why I dance”

  3. Carolon 24 Jan 2017 at 5:43 am

    Thank you Ivan, I so much appreciated both poems, Those Who Do Not Dance and
    Nasty Woman. I would not have heard Nasty Woman on Facebook, so I thank you
    for posting it here. Also appreciated the thought for the day. I believe compassion
    may be hard to come by today. But, poetry is powerful! Perhaps we can learn. . .

  4. Karynon 24 Jan 2017 at 11:20 am

    Thanks for both poems. Ashley has taken a lot of heat for her presentation. I commend her for her bravery and the passion given to the poem. I have written poetry for a long time and it is so powerful. Nasty Woman is raw and edgy but enough already, how long can an oppressed group keep being put down. I am a child of the ’60s and I am happy to see the flame of feminism rekindled.


  5. Bettyon 24 Jan 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Thank you for this!

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