Antonio Machado

Antonio Machado
‘Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.’

    XXIX
    Caminante, son tus huellas
    el camino, y nada más;
    caminante, no hay camino,
    se hace camino al andar,
    Al andar se hace el camino,
    y al volver la vista atrás
    se ve la senda que nunca
    se ha de volver a pisar.
    Caminante, no hay camino,
    sino estelas en el mar.

    Traveller, the path is your tracks
    And nothing more.
    Traveller, there is no path
    The path is made by walking.
    By walking you make a path
    And turning, you look back
    At a way you will never tread again
    Traveller, there is no road
    Only wakes in the sea.

The Amazon review boards are sputtering that Machado’s translator is Robert Bly—yes, Iron John himself. It makes sense that Bly is attracted to this muscular stuff but I bet he’s a dreadful translator. Machado is a Spanish brother-poet of Patrick Kavanagh and deserves his clear voice in English.

My Spanish literature professor at UCD was from Belfast, a bear of a man with a gray brush cut and a thick moustache, which he periodically shaved off. (The conscious act of shaving only part of one’s face always makes moustaches seem vain.) Philip Johnston—’Phul-up?’ in the rising intonation of his Northern accent—rolled every syllable of Machado around on his tongue, and paced the classroom while he read.
‘Mi infancia son re-cuer-dos de un patio en Sevilla.’
To this day, I hear Machado’s Spanish in these booming Belfast rhythms. It only deepens my affection for the work.

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