Machado’s advice on keeping your own voice

from Antonio Machado “Portrait”

In my passion for beauty, out of modern aesthetics
I’ve cut old-fashioned roses in gardens of Ronsard,
but I’ve felt no great love for the latest in cosmetics
nor will you find me trilling the stylish airs.

I’m not impressed by those puffed-up tenors’ ballads
or the cricket chorus crooning to the moon.
I’ve learned to tell the voices from the echoes
and of all the voices listen to only one.


not the fundamental I but the deep you

from “Proverbs and Songs”
Dedicated to Jose Ortega y Gasset
Antonio Machado

But look in your mirror for the other one,
the other one who walks by your side.

Between living and dreaming
there is a third thing.
Guess it.

Look for your other half
who walks always next to you
and tends to be what you aren’t.

In my solitude
I have seen things very clearly
that were not true.

Water is good, so is thirst;
shadow is good, so is sun;
the honey from the rosemarys
and the honey of the bare fields.

Form your letters slowly and well:
making things well
is more important than making them.

Wake up, you poets:
let echoes end,
and voices begin.

But don’t hunt for dissonance;
because, in the end, there is no dissonance.
When the sound is heard people dance.

What the poet is searching for
is not the fundamental I
but the deep you.

Beyond living and dreaming
there is something more important:
waking up.

If a poem becomes common,
passed around, hand to hand, it’s OK:
gold is chosen for coins.

But art?
It is pure and intense play,
so it is like pure and intense life,
so it is like pure and intense fire.
You’ll see the coal burning.