Poetry from the European Languages
Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2000 All Rights Reserved
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Antonio Machado was born in Seville and moved to Madrid at the age of eight. He studied in Paris where he worked as a translator, and met French poets. He became a schoolteacher. He returned to Spain and taught at Soria in Castile, from 1907, where he met his wife Leonor. Tragically she died very young, and in 1912 he left Soria for Baeza in Andalusia. Loyal to the Republic he left Spain for France when Catalonia fell, and died there in February 1939. He is acknowledged as Spain’s finest poet of the early twentieth century.
From – Fields of Soria
Hills of silver plate,
grey heights, dark red rocks
through which the Duero bends
its crossbow arc
round Soria, shadowed oaks,
stone dry-lands, naked mountains,
white roads and river poplars,
twilights of Soria, warlike and mystical,
today I feel, for you,
in my hearts depths, sadness,
sadness of love! Fields of Soria,
where it seems the stones have dreams,
you go with me! Hills of silver plate,
grey heights, dark red rocks.
(Soria is on the Duero River in the highlands of Old Castile)
To Jośe Marίa Palacio
Palacio, good friend,
is spring there
showing itself on branches of black poplars
by the roads and river? On the steeps
of the high Duero, spring is late,
but so soft and lovely when it comes!
Are there a few new leaves
on the old elms?
The acacias must still be bare,
and the mountain peaks snow-filled.
Oh the massed pinks and whites
of Moncayo, massed up there,
beauty, in the sky of Aragon!
Are there brambles flowering,
among the grey stones,
and white daisies,
in the thin grass?
On the belltowers
the storks will be landing now.
The wheat must be green
and the brown mules working sown furrows,
the people seeding late crops,
in April rain. There’ll be bees,
drunk on rosemary and thyme.
Are the plum trees in flower? Violets still?
There must be hunters about, stealthy,
their decoys under long capes.
Palacio, good friend,
are there nightingales by the river?
When the first lilies,
and the first roses, open,
on a blue evening, climb to Espino,
high Espino, where she is in the earth.
(Machado’s wife Leonor Izquierdo died very young, in 1911, and is buried in the church at Espino.)
From – Passageways
Who set, between those rocks like cinder,
to show the honey of dream,
that golden broom,
those blue rosemaries?
Who painted the purple mountains
and the saffron, sunset sky?
The hermitage, the beehives,
the cleft of the river
the endless rolling water deep in rocks,
the pale-green of new fields,
all of it, even the white and pink
under the almond trees!
From – Songs of the High Country
Soria, in blue mountains,
on the fields of violet,
how often I’ve dreamed of you
on the plain of flowers,
where the Guadalquiviŕ runs
past golden orange-trees
to the sea.