Antonio Machado: Self-Portrait (From Spanish)

Self-Portrait
By Antonio Machado
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

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 things I would 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 drops of leftist rebel blood may pulse throughout my body,

My verse has welled forth from a peaceful spring through all my days
More so than the 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 fashion
I've cut some classic roses from the garden of Ronsard
But I've no love for make-up of the Modernist beauticians
And do not flock with birds that sing in high-flown avant-garde.

And I dislike 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 the echos,
And of the many voices I but listen to the one.

Classical or Romantic - which am I? Who knows. I rather
Would leave my poetry just as a warrior leaves his blade,
More famous for the manful hand that brandished it to purpose
Than prized for the learn'd crafting of the forger at his trade.

I am in conversation with a friend who's always with me.
- Who talks alone can hope someday to talk with the Divine -
All my soliloquy amounts to talk with this companion
Who shared with me the secret key to loving humankind

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 at last my day arrives, the day of final journey
Whose ship of no return is set to raise the anchor free, 
You'll find me happily aboard, a lightfoot with scant luggage
And scarcely clad beneath the sun, like the 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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