Foreign in My Own Land

Antonio Machado

Even among familiar hills and fields
I have become foreign in my own land,
where the Duero dances over gray stones
and dances through phantom oaks,
in mystical Castile, war-like Castile,
gentle, humble, proud Castile,
Castile of snobbery and of wealth.
But I was born in Andalusia.
And filled with childhood memories,
I dream of singing her songs—
of sunshine through waving fronds,
storks perched in bell towers,
the cities beneath an indigo sky
bereft of women, deserted squares
where orange trees hunch blazing
with fruit, the shadowy orchards
where the pale fruit of lemon trees
shines in a fountain’s water.
Spikenard, carnation, basil, and mint,
olive groves half-invisible under
a brash sun that stuns and blinds,
the lavender mountains where
the evening’s rouge spills out.
Without a line to anchor memories
to the heart, they have no life.
Tattered and worn, they are
the plunder of all remembering,
the payload memory carries in itself.
Someday, in blessed light, they’ll return
like immaculate bodies to the shore.

Last updated November 29, 2022