A new book of poetry translation that enhances the ordinary
Antonio Machado, a school teacher and philosopher and one of Spain's foremost poets of the twentieth century, writes of the mountains, the skies, the farms and the sentiments of his homeland clearly and without narcissism: "Just as before, I'm interested/in water held in;/ but now water in the living/rock of my chest." "Machado has vowed not to soar too much; he wants to 'go down to the hells' or stick to the ordinary," Robert Bly writes in his introduction. He brings to the ordinary—to time, to landscape and stony earth, to bean fields and cities, to events and dreams—magical sound that conveys order, penetrating sight and attention. "The poems written while we are awake…are more original and more beautiful, and sometimes more wild than those made from dreams," Machado said.
In the newspapers before and during the Spanish Civil War, he wrote of political and moral issues, and, in 1939, fled from Franco's army into the Pyrenees, dying in exile a month later. When in 1966 a bronze bust of Machado was to be unveiled in a town here he had taught school, thousands of people came in pilgrimage only to find the Civil Guard with clubs and submachine guns blocking their way.
This selection of Machado's poetry, beautifully translated by Bly, begins with the Spanish master's first book, Times Alone, Passageways in the House, and Other Poems (1903), and follows his work to the poems published after his death: Poems from the Civil War (written during 1936 – 1939).
"In Machado there are no gypsies, no bulls, no castanets. His poetry has the still luminosity of a life lived in provincial backwaters in solitude and silence"~New York Times Book Review
""In Machado there are no gypsies, no bulls, no castanets. His poetry has the still luminosity of a life lived in provincial backwaters in solitude and silence""~New York Times Book Review
""Bly gives Machado with all of his tremendous sensitivity. He captures Machado's subtle sense of humor. He traces his stylistic and poetic experiments aimed at, as Machado put it, 'stitching the inner and the outer worlds together through poetry.' And finally, he sculpts for us the story of Machado's quiet though deeply passionate life. It was a life whose synthesis of joy and loss produced an uncommon blend of optimism and hope.""~San Francisco Chronicle Review