There was a boy who dreamt
a paper horse.
He opened his eyes,
and the horse was gone.

About a white horse
the boy dreamt again;
seizing it by the mane …
Now you won’t get away!

Barely had he caught it,
when the boy woke up.
His fist was closed.
The horse flew away!

The boy became serious,
thinking that a dreamt horse
was not real.
And he never dreamt again.

But the boy turned into a young man,
and the man fell in love,
and to his beloved he would say:
Are you real, or not?

When the man grew old
he thought everything was a dream—
the dreamt-up horse,
and the horse which was real.

And when death came,
the old man to his heart
whispered: Are you a dream?
Who knows, did he ever wake up!

translated from the Spanish by Motýlí Voko

From “Parábolas”

Era un niño que soñaba
un caballo de cartón.
Abrió los ojos el niño
y el caballito no vió.
Con un caballito blanco
el niño volvió a soñar;
y por la crin lo cogía …
¡ahora no te escaparás!
Apenas lo hubo cogido,
el niño se despertó.
Tenía el puño cerrado.
¡El caballito voló!
Quedóse el niño muy serio
pensando que no es verdad
un caballito soñado.
Y ya no volvió a soñar.
Pero el niño se hizo mozo
y el mozo tuvo un amor,
y a su amada le decía:
¿Tú eres de verdad o no?
Cuando el mozo se hizo viejo
pensaba: todo es soñar,
el caballito soñado
y el caballo de verdad.
Y cuando vino la muerte,
el viejo a su corazón
preguntaba: ¿Tú eres sueño?
¡Quién sabe si despertó!

About the poem: Composed in a deceivingly simple language styled on popular aphorisms, the eight poems Antonio Machado titled “Parábolas” (“Parables”) appeared in their final version in the 1917 collection Campos de Castilla (Fields of Castile).

Jan Vihan is a contributing writer for In The Fray.

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