Monday, April 18, 2011

"I'm Going To Sleep"

Photograph by Leticia Alaniz © 2011
Model: Juliana Thompson Alaniz

Voy A Dormir is the title of Alfonsina Storni's last published poem and she meant her poem to be literal and for eternal life.  I'm Going To Sleep was her farewell letter from the mundane world.

Alfonsina Storni was perhaps one of the greatest Latin American poets of the modernist period.  She was born in Switzerland in 1892, to Argentine parents that were in the beer producing industry.  

At a very young age, her family moved back to Argentina and opened a tavern in the city of Rosario.  She worked many different chores in the tavern, but became more curious with an acting career, and she joined a traveling theatre company in 1907.  

After touring with the company she returned to the city of Rosario and became a teacher. She taught primary school, and developed a passion for writing.  Her first published work was for Mundo Rosarino and Monos Y Monadas local magazines, as well as Mundo Argentino.

She decided to remain in anonymity for much of her writing, which led her to move to Buenos Aires in 1911.  The following year her son Alejandro was born, the illegitimate son of a journalist. 

In 1920 she published her book Languidez which won her the First Municipal Poetry Prize and the second National Literature Prize and soon after published Ocre.  

Her writing style became more and more a reflection of her own life and afflictions, with a strong feminist theme.  She reclused herself even more, living a life of solitude, which affected her health and mental stability and caused her to leave her job as a teacher.

Her writing became even more a dramatic lyricism, with erotic tones unknown in those days.  Feminist thoughts became a major theme as can be seen in Mundo de Siete Pozos (1934) and Mascarilla y Trebol (1938).

After her friend Quiroga, a writer, committed suicide, Alfonsina Storni sunk into a deep depression.  She was diagnosed with cancer and was left to live with her disease alone.  She wrote very little in those days.  

One day in October of 1938, Storni sent her last poem, Voy a dormir (I'm going to sleep), to La Nacion newspaper.  She left her writing desk and laid down her pen and ink forever.  She walked towards the sea at the quiet beach of La Perla, in Mar del Plata, Argentina.    

Alfonsina Storni (May 29, 1892 – October 25, 1938)

She walked into the sea deeper and deeper until she drowned.  Later that morning workers found her body washed up on the beach.  No one knows why she was such a solitude figure and why she was so depressed, sad and isolated. 

Her death inspired Ariel Ramirez and Felix Luna to compose the song Alfonsina y el Mar (Alfonsina and the sea").   The song has been performed by Mercedes Sosa, Tania Libertad, Nana Mouskouri, Mocedades, Andres Calamaro and many others.

Listen to the song inspired by Alfonsina Storni:
Alfonsina y el mar:

Written by Leticia Alaniz © 2011


  1. I love this poem. Sad but beautiful and gripping. What a way to go. Great post.

  2. Storni did have a unique way of expression, that said so much with such few words.