Antonio Machado: Self-Portrait (From Spanish)

Self-Portrait
By Antonio Machado
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click here to hear me recite the original

My childhood is all memories of a patio in Seville,
A orchard in the light where lemons ripened every fall,
My life as a young man- some twenty years about Castille,
My adult life- a few events I'd rather not recall.

I've never gone Lothario or played at Don Juan at parties.
It's obvious from my slovenly apparel that I can't.
Still, I endured the arrow meted out to me by Cupid
And loved as much as women's hospitality could grant.

Though my veins boil with drops of revolutionary blood,

My verse has bubbled from a peaceful spring through all my days
And more so than good boys who follow all the holy strictures,
I stand as a good man, and in the good sense of the phrase.

I give myself to beauty. In contemporary custom
I've cut some classic roses from the garden of Ronsard
But I have no love for the fads of Modernistic makeup
And do not flock with birds that sing in high-flown avant-garde.

I've had it with the balladry of hollow lovelorn tenors,
The cricket-choirs and tweety-birds who warble at the moon.
I cock my ear to try and tell the voices from their echos,
And of the many voices I just listen for the one.

A classic or romantic? Couldn't tell you. But I'd rather
Leave all my verse exactly as a fighter leaves his blade
Famed for the manly hand that held and brandished it in battle
And not the learnèd smithy's anvil where the steel was made.

I hold a conversation with a man who's always with me.
(Whoever banters with himself may one day hear God's mind.)
All my soliloquies are conversations with this fellow
Who taught me all I need to be a lover of mankind.

And in the end, I owe you nothing. You owe me for writing.
I go about my work with care, and what I earn I keep
To buy the suit that keeps me clothed, the roof that keeps me sheltered,
The bread that keeps the life in me, the bed on which I sleep.

And when I reach the day of the last voyage, come that moment
The ship of no return is set to cast the anchor free, 
You'll find me boarded with the crew, with barely any luggage
My body bare beneath the sun like children of the sea.


The Original:

Retrato
Antonio Machado

Mi infancia son recuerdos de un patio de Sevilla,
y un huerto claro donde madura el limonero;
mi juventud, veinte años en tierra de Castilla;
mi historia, algunos casos que recordar no quiero.

Ni un seductor Mañara , ni un Bradomín he sido
-ya conocéis mi torpe aliño indumentario-,
mas recibí la flecha que me asignó Cupido,
y amé cuanto ellas puedan tener de hospitalario.

Hay en mis venas gotas de sangre jacobina,
pero mi verso brota de manantial sereno;
y, más que un hombre al uso que sabe su doctrina,
soy, en el buen sentido de la palabra, bueno.

Adoro la hermosura, y en la moderna estética
corté las viejas rosas del huerto de Ronsard;
mas no amo los afeites de la actual cosmética,
ni soy un ave de esas del nuevo gay-trinar.

Desdeño las romanzas de los tenores huecos
y el coro de los grillos que cantan a la luna.
A distinguir me paro las voces de los ecos,
y escucho solamente, entre las voces, una.

¿Soy clásico o romántico? No sé. Dejar quisiera
mi verso, como deja el capitán su espada:
famosa por la mano viril que la blandiera,
no por el docto oficio del forjador preciada.

Converso con el hombre que siempre va conmigo
-quien habla solo espera hablar a Dios un día-;
mi soliloquio es plática con ese buen amigo
que me enseñó el secreto de la filantropía.

Y al cabo, nada os debo; debéisme cuanto he escrito.
A mi trabajo acudo, con mi dinero pago
el traje que me cubre y la masión que habito,
el pan que me alimenta y el lecho en donde yago.

Y cuando llegue el día del último viaje,
y esté al partir la nave que nunca ha de tornar,
me encontraréis a bordo ligero de equipage,
casi desnudo, como los hijos de la mar.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for the wonderfully made translation!

    ReplyDelete

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