Machado: There is no Way June 22, 2015Posted by anagasto in poetry, Spain.
Antonio Machado called himself a nihilist. At the time, this term must not have sounded as strange as now. The Russians also dealt with it and for Nietzsche it was a basic concept, maybe similar to today’s “atheist”, a term used by lots of people trying to define their attitude towards God or religion or tradition.
Machado was not too insistent in that regard, and he knew and said that a man’s actions or his verse may very well contradict what he tried to figure out as his metaphysics. — Machado refers the reader to Kant’s antinomy. ***
The short poem has become proverbial, all of it. It means that life is governed by chance.
He said so repeatedly, but rarely. He surely didn’t insist on it. It was not his message.
Traveler, those are only your tracks, that’s all.
Traveler, there is no path, though you leave one as you walk.
And if you look back, you will see the lane where you will never walk again.
Traveler, there is no path, though in the sea there is a wake.
Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino:
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace 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.
*** According to Kant, since neither God’s existence nor his non-existence can be proven, the difference between a believer and an atheist is psychological.
From Los Complementarios “De Poesía”: from Machado’s note-book, published after his death.