Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral

by Lucila Godoy Alcayaga

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What is the main theme of Gabriela Mistral's "Close to Me"?

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The main theme of "Close to Me" by Gabriela Mistral is the desire of a mother to keep her small, vulnerable child close to her. This mother has lost everything else and longs to care for and protect the child.

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The main theme of the poem “Close to Me” by Gabriela Mistral is a mother's desire to remain close to her vulnerable child and to care for her child after she has lost everything else.

The poem expresses this theme over four stanzas of four lines each, and the poet uses some lovely metaphors in the process. In the first stanza, the speaker calls her child “little fleece of my flesh / that I wove in my womb.” These lines express the remarkable intimacy between mother and child. They are of the same flesh, and the child was once inside the mother. But now the child is “shivering,” perhaps with cold or fear, so the mother draws the child close.

In the second stanza, the speaker compares the child to a little partridge sleeping in the clover. She can hear the child's heart beat, and she promises that her own breathing will not wake the little one. In the third stanza, the theme of closeness continues. Now the child is a “little trembling blade of grass” who does not know how to respond to being alive. The speaker tells the child not to leave her breast.

In the final, most poignant stanza, the speaker says that she has lost everything else and is scared to go to sleep, fearing that she will lose her child as well. She begs the little one not to slip away and ends the poem with the chorus that has completed each stanza: “Sleep close to me!”

We can feel the mother's love and fear in this poem. She loves her child dearly and wants nothing more than to protect and shelter the little one. Yet she is afraid of losing her child, for the child is small and vulnerable. She begs the child to sleep close to her and not slip away.

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