Translated from the Spanish by Don Share
I have walked down many roads
and cleared many paths;
I have navigated a hundred oceans
and anchored off a hundred shores.
All over, I have seen
caravans of sadness,
pompous and melancholy men
drunk with black shadows,
and defrocked pedants
who stare, keep quiet, and think
they know, because they don’t
drink wine in the neighborhood bars.
Bad people who go around
polluting the earth . . .
And all over, I have seen
people who dance or play,
when they can, and work
their four handfuls of land.
If they turn up someplace,
they never ask where they are.
When they travel, they ride
on the backs of old mules,
and don’t know how to hurry,
not even on holidays.
When there’s wine, they drink wine;
when there’s no wine, they drink cool water.
These are good people, who live,
work, get by, and dream;
and on a day like all the others
they lie down under the earth.
Antonio Machado (1875–1939) is considered one of Spain’s greatest poets of the last century. His poetry is characterized by a quiet reserve capable of enormous tenderness, and his deeply metaphysical cast of mind is complimented by an equally keen eye for the Spanish countryside. While much of his adult life was spent as a teacher of languages in country schools, during the Thirties he emerged as an eloquent spokesman for the Republican cause.
Don Share is Senior Editor of Poetry magazine. His books include Squandermania (Salt Publishing, 2007), _Union _(Zoo Press, 2002), and Seneca in English (Penguin Classics, 1998); forthcoming are a critical edition of Basil Bunting’s poems (Faber and Faber) and Bunting’s Persia (Flood Editions). His translations of Miguel Hernàndez, collected in I Have Lots of Heart (Bloodaxe Books, 1997) were awarded the Times Literary Supplement Translation Prize, the Premio Valle Inclan Prize, and the PEN/New England Discovery Award.
AGNI has published the following translations:
I Have Walked Down Many Roads by Antonio Machado
After Love by Miguel Hernàndez
The Last Corner Miguel Hernàndez