Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral

by Lucila Godoy Alcayaga

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Can you please interpret the poem "Inmost" by Gabriela Mistral?

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"Inmost" by Gabriela Mistral, is a poem about the nature of love. The speaker, addressing perhaps a potential lover, seems to dismiss a love that is defined only or mostly by physical bonds or connections. In the second stanza, for example, she tells the addressee,

Better not kiss my mouth.
There will come the moment ... when I'll lie

In other words, the speaker is saying that the love that might be expressed through the physical action of a kiss is a transient and, therefore, meaningless love, because one day she will be old and dying, "lipless," and unable to receive or return the kiss. The speaker, for the same reason, also tells the addressee, "Better not hold my hand," because, she says, one day her hand will have withered with age, and there will be "much dust / and shadow in the interwoven fingers." The speaker rejects a love based on or manifested through the physical because any physical connection must by definition be transient. Later in the poem, the speaker repeats the point rather emphatically with the simple proclamation, "don't touch me."

In the final two stanzas of the poem, the speaker tells the addressee that her

love's not just this stubborn,
weary burden of [her] body,

and that it is, by contrast,

a wind of God that blows by, tearing [her]
free from the tree of flesh.

The implication here is that love, for the speaker, is something that exists outside of the body. It is metaphysical rather than physical, and, therefore, eternal rather than transient. In fact, more than this, love is something which not only exists outside of the body but which is so strong, like "a wind of God," as to be able to liberate the speaker from the "weary burden" of her body. Love allows her soul "to fly, go free!"

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