Sing with me: “Knowing we understand nothing,
from an eerie ocean we come, to an inscrutable sea we go.”
And between the two mysteries lies the profound puzzle:
an unfamiliar key locks three coffers.
Light illuminates nothing and the wise man does not teach.
What do words say? And what about the mountain stream?

Wayfarer! Your own footprints
are the path and nothing more.
Wayfarer! There is no path,
the path is made as you walk.

As you walk you make the path,
and looking back
you see a trail you may never tread again.

Wayfarer! There is no path,
only wakes in the sea.

Everything passes and all remains,
but ours is the passing,
passing making paths,
paths over the sea.

translated from the Spanish by Motýlí Voko

“Proverbios y cantares”

XV

Cantad conmigo a coro: Saber, nada sabemos,
de arcano mar venimos, a ignota mar iremos …
Y entre los dos misterios está el enigma grave;
tres arcas cierra una desconocida llave.
La luz nada ilumina y el sabio nada enseña.
¿Qué dice la palabra? ¿Qué el agua de la peña?

XXIX

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.

XLIV

Todo pasa y todo queda,
pero lo nuestro es pasar,
pasar haciendo caminos,
caminos sobre la mar.

About the poem: With these proverbial limericks Antonio Machado forever changed the way Spaniards walk: while caminar is to walk as if passively following a path, andar is to walk in an active sense—to walk making paths.

Jan Vihan is a contributing writer for In The Fray.

In The Fray is a nonprofit staffed by volunteers. If you liked this piece, could you please donate $10?