translated from the Spanish by Don Share
I have walked down many roads
and cleared many paths;
I have navigated a hundred oceans
and anchored off a hundred shores.
All over, I have seen
caravans of sadness,
pompous and melancholy men
drunk with black shadows,
and defrocked pedants
who stare, keep quiet, and think
they know, because they don’t
drink wine in the neighborhood bars.
Bad people who go around
polluting the earth . . .
And all over, I have seen
people who dance or play,
when they can, and work
their four handfuls of land.
If they turn up someplace,
they never ask where they are.
When they travel, they ride
on the backs of old mules,
and don’t know how to hurry,
not even on holidays.
When there’s wine, they drink wine;
when there’s no wine, they drink cool water.
These are good people, who live,
work, get by, and dream;
and on a day like all the others
they lie down under the earth.
Antonio Machado is one of Spain’s most highly esteemed poets. He lived from 1876–1939. (1988)
Don Share is translating the poems of Miguel Hernandez. He has work forthcoming in The Paris Review. (1988)