20 Sep 2013

Art and poetry from 1898 Australia and Spain

My post this week is a bit different.

This week I’m going to share one of my favourite poems. It’s a poem I frequently think of and probably the poem that has had the biggest impact on my life. It was written by Antonio Machado, a Spanish poet and one of the leading figures of the Spanish literary movement known as the Generation of '98. This was a group of novelists, poets, essayists, and philosophers active in Spain at the time of the Spanish-American War (1898.)

Trees on the Coast by W.Lister Lister
In keeping with the spirit of this blog, I tried to find out what was going on in Australia during 1898. An interesting bit of trivia is that artist W. Lister Lister won the Wynne Prize for his landscape The Last Gleam. I haven’t been able to find an image of that painting but you can see a picture of another of Lister’s works here.

Below is my favourite poem by Antonio Machado. I hope you find it as inspirational as I do.

Wanderer, there is no path

 Everything passes and everything remains,
but we can only pass,
pass making paths,
paths over the sea.

I never sought glory,
nor to leave in man’s
memory my song;

I love the subtle worlds,
weightless and delicate,
like soap bubbles.

I like to see them painted
by sun and spots, fly
under the blue sky, then
tremble and burst…

I never sought glory.
Wanderer, it’s your footprints
that are the path, nothing more;
Wanderer, there is no path,
the path is made by walking.

By walking the path is made
and looking back
you see the trail
you will never tread again.

Wanderer, there is no path,
only the wake upon the sea…

Some time ago in this place
where today the forests are full of hawthorns
you could hear the voice of a poet shout

“Wanderer, there is no path,
the path is made by walking…”
Blow by blow, verse by verse…

The poet died far from home.
A foreign country’s dust covered him.
As they left they saw him crying.

“Wanderer, there is no path,
the path is made by walking…”
Blow by blow, verse by verse…

When the finch cannot sing.
When the poet is a pilgrim,
when praying will do us no good.

“Wanderer, there is no path,
the path is made by walking…”
Blow by blow, verse by verse.