Lembah Elqui / Valle de Elqui / Elqui Valley

Ian Campbell

Macquarie University

PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1, April 2017

Transitions and Dislocations, Curated Cultural Works Issue, Curated by Paul Allatson.

© 2017 by Ian Campbell. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) License (, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.

Citation: Campbell, I. 2017. Lembah Elqui / Valle de Elqui / Elqui Valley. PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, 14:1, 13-16.

ISSN 1449-2490 | Published by UTS ePRESS |

Corresponding author: Mr Ian Campbell, Honorary Research Associate, Department of International Studies, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia.


Article History: Received 18/01/2017; Revised 14/03/2017; Accepted 15/03/2017; Published 04/05/2017


The three versions of Ian Campbell’s poem about Valle de Elqui (in Chile) presented here comprise a poem he first wrote in Spanish, then in English and finally in a more powerful version in Indonesian, which was first published in 2012 in the literary pages of the Jakarta mass media daily Kompas. Campbell regards this whole process as emblematic of his explorations in trilingual poetics, namely what does a ‘concept’/poem idea look like if done in the three languages with which he has some degree of written knowledge or fluency: English, Spanish, Indonesian. This mirrors the ‘three-pronged’ title ‘Selatan-Sur-South’ that he adopted for the collection of his poetry in PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, vol. 5, no. 1, 2008. The Indonesian version, ‘Lembah Elqui,’ was also included in Campbell’s poetry and prose collection Tak ada Peringatan (Vivid Publishing, 2013). In each version now the reference is to Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957), Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature (1945), whose burial place lies in Monte Grande in the Valle de Elqui in northern Chile.


Ian Campbell; Gabriela Mistral; Lembah Alqui, Chili; Valle de Elqui, Chile; Elqui Valley, Chile; trilingual aesthetics


Lembah Elqui, Chili

Lereng-lereng lembah melandai,
ke buminya;
garis-garis vertikal bergabung,
ke buminya.
suatu kuburan dikelilingi batu-batu,
sungai berbuih,

Gabriela Mistral pernah
mengajar di rumah sekolah
bangku-bangku berdebu tetap;
sekolah sepi,

Lewat jendela saya melihat
daun-daun anggur,
tersinar cerah,
meluap-luap gula
di tengah batu-batu,
di bawah logam berat
matahari merahnya.

Lembah-lembah terjauh,
kesunyian biru,
batu menjelma ke dalam kata;
sorga dihancurkan,
di bawahnya.
batu-batu mendalam
di bawah pencelupan
sekarat matahari,

Valle de Elqui, Chile

cuesta empinada,
tumba rodeada por rocas.
rápido y blanco el río,
escritorio y pupitres antiguos
escuela Mistral.

uvas destinadas para pisco,
brillantes de azúcar
a través de las montañas,
metales pesados del sol,
patrimonio de todos,
sin excepción.

poesía de los valles lejanos
silencio azul,
piedras de palabras,
polvo de cielo,

poesía enterrada,
en rocas duras,
amarillentas por
el fuego rojo del sol.

Elqui Valley, Chile

Valley slopes angle down,
all verticals converge,
tomb surrounded by stone,
white river runs.

here Gabriela taught,
her old school house and
pupils’ dusty desks,
now for ever stilled.

through the windows
outside pisco grapes dazzle,
brim full of sugar amid
scattered rocks,
beneath the heavy metal of the sun.

poetry of the far valleys,
of the blue silence,
stone becomes word,
heavens pulverized
by the void below.

poetry is interred,
deep stone
under the dying red of the sun.

DECLARATION OF CONFLICTING INTEREST The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. FUNDING The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.