Archive for 15/04/12

Antonio Machado’s “He andado muchos caminos”


Antonio Machado sits down (second line) during the Second Congress of Writers in Defense of Culture, in Valencia, 1937This is one of the most significative Antonio Machado’s poem. Machado were evoluting from the “pure” poetry to a poetry more involved with the people; he began to see that, most of the time, people’s folk were wiser than intelectuals. And so, he wrote this beatiful poem, included in his book Soledades (1899-1907) –Solitudes-, that is a kind of homage to the simple people, to who he always loved; anyways, it comes from the family tradition: his father Antonio Machado Álvarez was a humanist writer, anthropologist and folklorist, who signed with the greek pseudonim of Demófilo, “friend of the people”. This love to the worker people will take to Antonio Machado to sympathize with progressists ideas and movements, with workers movements, and with the Second Spanish Republic till his dead.

Beard Joan Manuel Serrat (circa 1972)Many years later, Joan Manuel Serrat, already a famous singer in Catalan lanaguage, who had become to sing in Spanish too, recorded in 1969 an album-homage to the great poet: Dedicado a Antonio Machado, poeta (Dedicated to Antonio Machado, poet); the record contains Machado’s poems (except “En Colliure”, which lyric is Serrat’s) with a kind of pop music compossed by Serrat. Among them there was this poem, entitled as the first verse:

II

He andado muchos caminos
he abierto muchas veredas;
he navegado en cien mares
y atracado en cien riberas.

En todas partes he visto
caravanas de tristeza,
soberbios y melancólicos
borrachos de sombra negra.

Y pedantones al paño
que miran, callan y piensan
que saben, porque no beben
el vino de las tabernas.

Mala gente que camina
y va apestando la tierra…

Y en todas partes he visto
gentes que danzan o juegan,
cuando pueden, y laboran
sus cuatro palmos de tierra.

Nunca, si llegan a un sitio
preguntan a donde llegan.
Cuando caminan, cabalgan
a lomos de mula vieja.

Y no conocen la prisa
ni aún en los días de fiesta.
Donde hay vino, beben vino,
donde no hay vino, agua fresca.

Son buenas gentes que viven,
laboran, pasan y sueñan,
y en un día como tantos,
descansan bajo la tierra.

II

I’ve walked many roads/ I’ve opened many sidewalks;/ I’ve sailed through hundred seas/ and tied up in hundred of banks.// And everywhere I’ve seen/ trailers of sadness,/ superbs and melancholics/ drunk with black shadow.// And big pedants leaning from behind the scenes*/ that look, keep quiet and think/ they know, because they don’t drink/ wine in the taberns.// Bad people who walks/ and goes stinking out the ground…// And everywhere I’ve seen/ folks who dance or play,/ when they can, and work/ their four inches of soil.// They never, if arriving to a place/ ask where they have arrived./ When they walk, they ride/ old mule’s back.// And they don’t know the rush/ even on holidays./ Where there’s wine, they drin wine,/ where there is no wine, fresh water.// They are good people that live,/ work, pass and dream,/ and in a day as many other days,/ they rest under the ground.

Antonio Machado

Machado's signe

NOTES:

This is a very basic translation. I’m not philologist, but I translate poems and songs of Spain (the whole Spain), Latin-America, France and Portugal to the knowledge of the most of the people around the world. I mean that this translation must only serves as a first aproximation; for better translations it has to be good English editions of Antonio Machado’s work… Better if it’s bilingual.

* Acording to RAE’s deffinition (Spanish Royal Academy of Language), “al paño” means: “It’s said of an actor’s watching or talking: At the play, behind a curtain or a frame, or leaning out the interstices or spaces of the ornamentation”. So maybe Machado is refering to those intellectuals who didn’t get a compromise with reality, for they believe it’s an unfit activity. They are actors that should play, but stay around and look.

Live versions of Serrat; in Chile, 1969:

In Peru, 1972:

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