heartbeats

Machado’s ‘Last Night As I Was Sleeping’

Antonio Machado was an early 20th-century Spanish poet who often used dreams to access the inner world, what he called ‘the living pulse of the spirit’.

This poignant poem reveals a deep sense of gratitude for a new beginning and the invitation it offers to open the heart, to “water of a new life that I have never drunk.” It even goes as far as to make right of past mistakes, as the the golden bees make “sweet honey” from “old failures.”

***

Last Night As I Was Sleeping
translation by Robert Bly

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

***

Hear Robert Bly read the poem here.

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