Antonio Machado: "Wayfarer, the only way..." (From Spanish)

"Wayfarer, the only way..."
By Antonio Machado
Translated by A.Z Foreman

Wayfarer, the only way
Is your footprints and no other.
Wayfarer, there is no way.
Make your way by going farther.
By going farther, make your way
Till looking back at where you've wandered,
You look back on that path you may
Not set foot on from now onward.
Wayfarer, there is no way;
Only trails of wake on water.

The Original:

Proverbios y Cantares: Poema VI
Antonio Machado

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


  1. Thanks a lot! but for the prose translation. I have not yet read it, have to download and read later, been online too long looking for something where he explains why (as I vaguely remember) a goldsmith turning gold into a jewel is not similar to a poet turning words into a poem, because (¡¡genial!!!) as a raw material gold is not loaden (loaded?) with meaning as words are, and so the goldsmith can change his gold any which way.

    I will read this later. By the way, would you know whether Machado said "toda poesía es, en cierto modo, un palimpsesto"?

    I think Machado is not known outside Spain and Spaniards say nothing about him because the Derecha thinks he was a communist and the izquierda thinks he is by now outdated.

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  3. My primary language was German, but as I am Swiss, English soon started to feel lighter. I see that you work in about a dozen languages, and I don't know how that is possible.
    I "do" 4, but cannot speak any of them completely spontaneously. And I can write rather easily in English, but in the others, German, Spanish, and French, I can only avoid mistakes, but cannot find the right turns without Googling all over the place. And so I came up with the formula a + b +c + d...... = 1 meaning that one's various languages replace and supercede each other, and they don't do that peacefully at all. -- However, your list of translations undermines my theorem, doesn't it.

    I am sorry to appear here so prominently, but you can simply erase these messages.

    Machado and Proust are the only authors I really know.
    Have you seen Machado's picture of Time as ocean wave?
    lejos la negra ola
    de misteriosa marcha
    su penacho de espuma silenciosa...."
    And La Muerte de Abel Martín where "el ángel que sabía
    su secreto salió a Martín al paso.
    Martín le dió el dinero que tenía.
    ¿Piedad? Tal vez. ¿Miedo al chantaje? Acaso."

  4. just imagine/envision this translation sung by the late Johnny Cash :-)
    i enjoyed the translation, thanks!

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