Caminante, son tus huellas

This is another poem by Antonio Machado from the Proverbs and Songs section of his great collection, “Campos de Castilla”. I was reminded by it when I happened to hear a song by Joan Manuel Serrat, which incorporated these words, along with other fragments of Machado. That song is called, “Caminante, no hay camino” which appears here in the third and ninth lines.. Check out the song, but first read the poem…

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar.

Lee todo en: Caminante no hay camino – Poemas de Antonio Machado

From <;

The poem evokes the human condition through the metaphor of the traveller who has to make his own way. There is no predisposed path, it is the travellers own footsteps which make his path. So we have to make our choices and live with them, in travels and in life. We are responsible for own destiny in life, no one will make our decisions for us. The traveller can look over his shoulder and see where his steps have taken him in the past, but he cannot go back and repeat or change it.

And the final line I think points us to a higher aspiration, it is the stars above the sea which will guide us on the right path.

This poem is written in sparse, straightforward language and in a simple structure; it conveys the poet’s stoic or even fatalistic view of the human condition, the fundamental loneliness of each individual as he or she makes choices and moves through life. Very powerful and very moving. There is a rich vein of this type of poetry in Machado which repays sustained exploration.


The Poetry Dude


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