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What Mistral, Neruda and Lemebel wrote about work

The winner of Nobel Prize in Literature He wrote more than 25 texts related to work, including poems, articles and conferences. Born and raised in the Elqui Valley, she experienced firsthand the conditions of rural work and the inequalities in the social and economic remuneration of women’s work. Additionally, she witnessed child labor, which she condemned through her words.

“All of Latin America has sinned against the countryside. Creole kitsch has abandoned it because it is uncomfortable and crude to live in,” he said in the text. Chilean countrysidefor a radio message where he comments on the poor state of the countryside in Monte Grande.

Gabriela Mistral He always advocated for agrarian reform, which he witnessed in Mexico. He wrote several texts about it, such as How a farm school was made in Mexico in 1923 and Mexico. The agrarian question in 1924; and he exchanged opinions on the matter with his friend and future president of Chile, Pedro Aguirre Cerdawhom he reproached for not adding the reform to his program.

In Agrarian Passionthe poet refers again to the peasantry and adds to the workers: “The industrial worker monopolizes all the attention of the so-called democratic parties in those countries (…) Nobody remembers the peasant in Chile and other countries. And this quite shows the quality of the democratic conscience and sincerity of the candidates.”

He also dedicated words to the working condition of women, especially equal pay. In 1919, when she was a teacher in Punta Arenas, she wrote New Horizons in favor of women. “The only thing that should be requested is that when these occupations are performed by women, employers pay the same salaries as when they were enjoyed by men. Because something curious happens about thiswhich constitutes, at its core, an injustice and inequity: When a woman occupies a position that was previously held by a man, her salary is immediately reduced”.

He deepened his ideas in Message about women’s work. “It seems more wrong than right to treat women’s work as a feminist issue. It is preferable to face it plainly as a simple work problem.”he begins by saying in the undated text.

“Industrial workers have seen their salaries suffer in the cities but leveling is still a long way off. Field workers still live the absurdity that is good to call a crime: Their daily wage, in some countries, is half that of men without any difference in the work.”, he adds. Later, in the five-page writing, he points out domestic work as “the ugliest market in this black history,” and points out that, despite the existence of the Labor Code, it continues “the perverse custom” of paying women less.

Likewise, in the speech he gave from the balconies of La Moneda during his visit to Chile in 1954, he dedicated words to the workers, school teachers and women. “You earn your living much harder than I do. The Work has, as you detail, two faces: one declares loudly the honor that it entails and gives, and its face is beautiful; the other confesses the pain, the fatigue, the monotony.”

In 1954, Chileans took to the streets en masse to greet Gabriela Mistral on her last visit to the country.

To my obligations of Pablo Neruda talks about work from poetry. “I work and work, / I must replace / so many forgetfulness, / fill the darkness with bread, / found hope again (…) It is nothing for me but the dust, / the cruel rain of the season, / I reserve nothing / but all space / and there work, work, / manifest the spring.”

In I confess that I have livedthe poet, also winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, reflected on the characteristics of his own profession. “The work of writers, I say, has a lot in common with that of those Arctic fishermen. The writer has to look for the river and, if he finds it frozen, he needs to pierce the ice. He must exude patience, endure the temperature and adverse criticism, defy ridicule, seek the deep current, cast the right hook, and after so much work, catch a tiny fish. But he must weigh again, against the cold, against the ice, against the water, against the critic, until each time he collects a larger catch.

Pablo Neruda, 1968. Photo: Evandro Teixeira.

Nicanor Parra He did not start as a poet, but as a mathematics and physics teacher. For approximately fifty years, the ‘anti-poet’ taught classes in high school and university classrooms, sometimes classes on numbers and sometimes on letters. That work immortalized him in Self-portraita poem written in 1954 and published in Poems and anti-poems.

“I have lost my voice doing classes. / (After all or nothing/I do forty hours a week)”, wrote the native of San Fabián. The poem, which allows the poet to be seen and heard, reveals his critical stance towards the work. “Because of overwork, sometimes/ I see strange shapes in the air”.

“Behind this uncomfortable inn/ Stunned by the singing/ Of the five hundred hours per week”, Parra finishes writing.


The Chilean writer, known as a true urban chronicler, explored social realities in the first person and captured them in his texts, as in The corner is my heart and I’m afraid bullfighter. Likewise, the groundbreaking author expressed his thoughts through the artistic duo the Mares of the Apocalypsetogether with Francisco Casas.

Pedro Lemebel grew up in a poor neighborhood and worked from a very young ageas stated in First of Maywriting that he published in The citizen in 2011. “I never liked bosses, bosses, managers, directors, foremen and editors”he begins by saying.

“I come from a working family, and I have always worked in thousands of jobs; Since he was little, he has been cleaning, waxing, cleaning windows in rich people’s houses, doing whatever he can to grab a few coins, dealing weed, pirating books banned in the dictatorship, painting cards and T-shirts that he offered for Easter, hippieing and selling gadgets at fairs. artisanal. Because I wasn’t a bitch, I lacked body, and that’s why I studied pedagogy and then came three years of teaching classes.; But the truth is, I never liked the catechism of work and I chose to claim thinking leisure. They should pay us for thinking, it is a nice and quiet job“, wrote.

“It is difficult for me to recognize the almost religious pleasure of work. It must be because they always told me that work makes a man great, and I’m not that much of a man. I’m not even there with work. And I repeat it, and I say it with all its letters: I never liked working (…) I would like not to write anymore, win the goal cock, stay forever high and sick of a hedonist drinking a rum of guata in the sun on a northern beach. After trying so hard to survive, I think I deserve it and the workers of the world deserve it: Unite in a well-deserved arm strike,” his text continues.

“I always loved the strikes, the stoppages, the recesses, the takeovers of schools, I was happy when I arrived at high school and there were no classes. Then I was going to wander around the center, where I learned much more than in that smelly classroom. I hate work, I hate ants and bees for stupid bosses and slaves. (…) I like and adhere to labor dayfor political demands, but more than anything, because you don’t work”, concludes the writer.

Photo: Pablo Sanhueza

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