“Cantares”, poems by Antonio Machado, arranged by J. M. Serrat


I’m with the Spain of poets and workers.

Joan Manuel Serrat, Live in Los Angeles (USA), 1976

antonio machado discOne of the most famous songs of the great songwriter Joan Manuel Serrat, made upon a selection of poems of Antonio Machado. Serrat begun singing his own songs in Catalan, within the songwriters collective Setze Jutges (Sixteen Judges), but, circa 1968 he decided to sing in Spanish too, something that was interpreted by many as a treason and an attempt to earn more money (however, his mother was Aragonese). In the year of 1968, he recorded some EPs in Spanish that were compiled in the 69 Lp, La paloma (“The dove”, being the title of the song writen by Rafael Alberti, with music of Carlos Guastavino, that opened his album); at the same time, upon him was a veto due to the Eurovision affair. But, in spite of this, his monographic LP of that year, was a real succes. Dedicado a Antonio Machado, poeta (Dedicated to Antonio Machado, poet) was an album made of musicalizations of Antonio Machado’s poem, some by him, and other by the Argentinean songwriter, Alberto Cortez (the first in singing Machado’s poem), except the ending song, “En Colliure”, by Serrat, and the opening song, “Cantares”, in which Serrat mixes some of the poems named “Proverbios y cantares” (Proverbs and songs) with lyrics by his own. The song, besides being a homage, try to perform the feeling of Antonio Machado when, in 1939, with the defeating of the Spanish Republic, he went exiled to France (with his mother Ana Ruiz, his brother José, and writer Corpus Barga), when he died some days later.

Note: As usual, I must to advice that the translation of Antonio Machado’s verse musn’t be taken very seriously, but as an aproximation. We write in italic the original Machado’s verses, and, in normal, Serrat’s phrases; the values are subverted in the translation.

Cantares

Todo pasa y todo queda,
pero lo nuestro es pasar,
pasar haciendo caminos,
caminos sobre el mar.

Nunca perseguí la gloria,
ni dejar en la memoria
de los hombres mi canción;
yo amo los mundos sutiles,
ingrávidos y gentiles,
como pompas de jabón.

Me gusta verlos pintarse
de sol y grana, volar
bajo el cielo azul, temblar
súbitamente y quebrarse…
Nunca perseguí la gloria.

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

Al andar se hace 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 la mar…

Hace algún tiempo en ese lugar
donde hoy los bosques se visten de espinos
se oyó la voz de un poeta gritar:
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar…"

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso…

Murió el poeta lejos del hogar.
Le cubre el polvo de un país vecino.
Al alejarse, le vieron llorar.
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar…"

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso…

Cuando el jilguero no puede cantar.
Cuando el poeta es un peregrino,
cuando de nada nos sirve rezar.
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar…"

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso.

Songs

Everything passes and everything remains,/ but ours is to pass,/ to pass making roads,/ roads over the sea. (1)// I never chased glory,/ nor to left on the memory/ of men my song;/ I love the subtle worlds,/ weightless and genteel,/ just like bubble blowers.// I like to see them painting themselves/ in sun and deep red, to fly/ under the blue sky, to tremble/ suddenly and break… (2)/ I never chased glory.// Walker, your footsteps are/ the road and nothing more;/ walker, there’s no road,/ it’s making road as it’s walked.// Walking the road it’s making/ and as it looked back/ it’s seeing the track that never/ shall be stepped again.// Walker there’s no road,/ but trails on the sea… (3)// Some time ago in that place/ where the woods are dressed with hawthorns today,/ was heard a poet’s voice to cry:/ “Walker there’s no road,/ it’s making road as it’s walked…”// Coup by coup, verse by verse…// The poet died far away from his home./ It’s covered with the dust of a negihbor country./ As he was moving away, they see him weeping./ “Walker there’s no road,/ it’s making road as it’s walked…”// Coup by coup, verse by verse…// When the goldfinch cannot sing./ When the poet is a pilgrim,/ when praying has not use at all./ “Walker there’s no road,/ it’s making road as it’s walked…”// Coup by coup, verse by verse.

Antonio Machado/ J. M. Serrat

Music: J. M. Serrat

List of the verses of Antonio Machado (supplied by Wikipedia: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantares_%28canci%C3%B3n_de_Joan_Manuel_Serrat%29):

(1) “Proverbios y cantares XLIV”

(2) “Proverbios y cantares I”

(3) “Proverbios y cantares XXIX”

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