Antonio Machado


In the blue, the black
flock of birds
calling, flapping, perching
on the frozen poplar.
… On the bare poplar
sombre rooks, still and silent
like cold dark notes
penned on February’s stave.


The blue mountain, the river, the tall
copper wands of slender poplars,
and white of almonds on the hill,
oh snow in flower, butterfly on the bough!
With the broad beans’ fragrance the wind
blows over the land’s bright solitude.


A white flash
snakes through leaden cloud.
The child’s eye
amazed, and the frowning brow
– the room is dark – of the mother!…
Oh balcony closed against the storm!
The wind and hail
ring on the bright glass.


The rainbow and the balcony.
Seven strings
of the sun’s lyre tremor in dream.
A toy drum gives seven taps –
– water and glass –.
Acacias with goldfinches.
Storks on the bell-towers.
In the plaza
the rain has washed the dusty myrtle.
Who placed those laughing virgin girls
in the vast quadrangle
and above, hosannah! in the broken cloud,
the palm of gold and the blue serene?


Between chalk hills and grey crags
the train eats the steel trail.
The row of gleaming windows
hold a twin cameo profile
repeated through the silver glass.
Who is it that has pierced time’s heart?


Who set, between those rocks like cinder,
to show the honey of dream,
that golden broom,
those blue rosemaries?
Who painted the purple mountains
and the saffron, sunset sky?
The hermitage, the beehives,
the cleft of the river
the endless rolling water deep in rocks,
the pale-green of new fields,
all of it, even the white and pink
under the almond trees!


In the silence it goes on
trembling, Pythagoras’ lyre,
rainbow in the light, the light that fills
my empty stereoscope.
They’ve blinded my eyes those embers
of the Heraclitean fire.
World for a moment is
transparent, void, mute, blind.

Last updated November 29, 2022