Antonio Machado: from Proverbs and Songs

from Proverbs and Songs

I.
The eye you see is not
an eye because you see it;
It is an eye because it sees you.

II.
To have a conversation,
first ask a question;
then … listen.

III.
Narcissism
is an ugly habit,
and an outdated one too.

IV.
But pay attention to that other
in your mirror,
the one who follows you.

V.
Between living and dreaming
there is a third thing.
Imagine it.

VI.
Your narcissism
doesn’t see itself in the mirror
because it is the mirror.

VII.
A new era?  Is it not still
the same fire we forge with?
Does not water still run
through our same old grooves?

VIII.
“Today” is always only
what has not yet passed away.

IX.
Sun in Aries. My window
lets in cold air.
Distant sound of water!
Evening awakens the river.

X.
In the old village
cranes nest in wide towers,
mute men converse,
and in lonely fields,
water sounds between the rocks.

XI.
Once again, my attention
is like captive water,
but water that is the living
strength of my heart.

XII.
How do you know
when water makes a sound,
if it is water from a mountain,
water from the street,
water from the square,
or from an orchard somewhere?

XIII.
Finding something
you weren’t looking for
is like
the leaves of a honey plant,
the smell of ripe lemon.

XIV.
Never judge your limits
or pay attention to your profile;
those are things
that are beyond you.

XV.
Find what completes you:
it is what travels with you
and often stands in your way.

XVII.
In my solitude
I have seen many things clearly
that weren’t true.

XVIII.
There is goodness in water and thirst;
in shade as well as sun:
there is honey in the blooming rosemary bush,
and honey in a flowerless field.

XIX.
By the side of the road
there is a fountain made of stone
and a little song of clay —
“Glop, glop” —
no one can take away.

XXI.
I have seen
poor clumps of earth
drink up the rain
and desires
that stayed thirsty.

XXIV.
Form your words
slowly and with care:
doing things well
is more important
than doing them.

XXXVI.
It is not the fundamental “I”
the poet seeks
but the essential “you.”

Antonio Machado

Translated from Spanish by Paul Weinfield, © 2015
Image by Oli McAvoy
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