Thursday, December 23, 2010

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 3 (Antonio Machado)

Machado, Antonio
The Landscape of Castile


Given to me by publisher/co-translator, Dennis Maloney.

I remember reading Machado in high school. We were told he was part of the "Generation of '98." I think we read Machado and Unamuno.

Our teacher was a young guy with a glass eye who sometimes told the all-male class perverse stories. Once he told us about how on the night of his honeymoon, while he lay naked in bed waiting for his wife to shower, he drifted off to sleep. He was awakened by the pleasant sensation of having his balls licked. Assuming the licking was being done by his wife, he reached down to touch her head and discovered he was being licked by a stray cat.

And this at a Catholic school!

My only other memory of that class is of a print of Goya's, "El tres de mayo de 1808 en Madrid" hanging on the wall. I used to stare at that man in the yellow pants and white shirt standing before the firing squad with his arms outstretched. The image actually made it into one of my poems later on. The image of the cat licking the teacher's balls did not make it into a poem.

from The Landscape of Castile

November 1913

Another year gone. The sower casts
seed into the furrowed earth.
Two slow ox teams plow
while ashen clouds pass over,
darkening the field,
the brown planted rows,
the gray olive groves. Along the bottom
of the valley, the river carries muddy water off.
On Cazorla, snow,
Magina is stormy,
Aznaitin is covered in clouds. Toward Granada,
sun on the mountains, mountains of sun and stone.

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