Alla en las tierras altas

Antonio Machado is one of my favourite Spanish poets. He was rooted in his native Castille and very many of his poems explore the countryside, the landscapes and the people of the central Spanish plains. His poems are lyrically compelling and nostalgic with hints of sadness sometimes, which seem to tell his own exile at the end of his life at theend of the Spanish Civil War, when he had to cross the Pyrenees to France, like Goya 120 years previously. This poem evokes the countryside along the river Duero near the town of Soria, where Machado worked as a teacher.

Allá, en las tierras altas,
por donde traza el Duero
su curva de ballesta
en torno a Soria, entre plomizos cerros
y manchas de raídos encinares,
mi corazón está vagando, en sueños…
¿No ves, Leonor, los álamos del río
con sus ramajes yertos?
Mira el Moncayo azul y blanco; dame
tu mano y paseemos.
Por estos campos de la tierra mía,
bordados de olivares polvorientos,
voy caminando solo,
triste, cansado, pensativo y viejo.

From <;

The poem describes the poet’s memory of walking along the river, between the polar trees lining the banks with his love Leonor. But it is a dream, this was in the past and the last four lines show the poet walking alone, sad, tired, pensive, old. The accumulation of adjectives in the last line echoes Gongora’s great sonnet, “Mientras por competir con tu cabello” (see the post on this blog on September…)

This poem is very touching and I like the mix of natural description and its correspondance in the poet’s feelings, such that human experience is at the centre of the natural world.

The Poetry Dude

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