Antonio Machado is one of my favourite Spanish poets. He was born in the Dueñas Palace in Seville in 1875. He was the second child of a famous specialist in folklore, Antonio Machado Álvarez. The poet was a very happy child and he is going to always remember his native Sevillian home: the garden, the ‘sleeping’ fountain, the ‘flowered’ lemon tree and the flowerpots of mint and basil which his mother grew.
In 1883 the family moved to Madrid and Antonio is studying in the most modern school in the city, the Institución Libre de Enseñanza. His brother Manuel and he are going to read Shaskespeare, Dickens and Bécquer, and they are learning by heart verses from Spanish ballads. These readings awoke a literary vocation in the both of them. They are going to live happy and Bohemian years until their father died in 1893, then both Antonio and Manuel must work seriously.
Antonio moved to Paris in 1899. There he is going to know poetic symbolism and writers like Oscar Wilde and Jean Moreas. He is going to work as a translator in Garnier, to attend literary social gatherings and to start to write ‘Soledades’, which he is publishing in 1903.
When Machado went back to Madrid, he decided to sit an examination for a French chair to Second school. He was successful in it and he got a tenure in Soria in 1906, this city marked his life because there he will know his future wife, Leonor, a girl fifteen years younger than him, and he is starting to write ‘Campos de Castilla’.
In 1910 the couple moved to Paris with a grant to further his French studies, but suddenly Leonor is going to fall ill and they must come back to Soria. She died in 1912 a few weeks after the publication of ‘Campos de Castilla’. He is going to remember his wife in very melancholy verses. The poet left Soria and he lived and worked in several cities as a teacher: Baeza, Segovia and Madrid. In 1931 he is adhering to Republic when it was proclaimed.
Finally, during the Civil War, Machado was evacuated to Valencia and Barcelona. After the defeat he went into exile with his mother and his brother José and family to France. After few months he died in Colliure where he was buried.
I visited his tomb eight years ago, an emotional and simple place where visitors are leaving small presents in his honour: verses, drawings, flowers… I think this place is the best symbol of Republican Spain.
Matilde Serna Masiá
Intermediate 1, 10’30