The Dawn of Autumn (Amanencer de Otoño)

.An autumnal poem, this, although it’s well past the ‘dawn’ of autumn now, deep in the gloom of November (I write from north east England). Having just started the blog, however, I couldn’t wait till  next September…

Amanencer de Otoño is a poem from Campos de Castilla (1907-1917) by the early 20th century poet, Antonio Machado. Here is the original Spanish version:

Amanecer de  Otoño

                                    A Julio Romero de Torres

Una larga carretera
entre grises peñascales,
y alguna humilde pradera
donde pacen negros toros. Zarzas, malezas, jarales.

Está la tierra mojada
por las gotas del rocío,
y la alameda dorada,
hacia la curva del río.

Tras los montes de violeta
quebrado el primer albor;
a la espalda la escopeta,
entre sus galgos agudos, caminando un cazador.

Here is my own, fairly literal, translation:

The Dawning of Autumn

                                    For Julio Romero de Torres

A long road

between grey rockfalls

and some humble meadow

 where black bulls graze. Brambles, weeds, rock-roses.

 

There, a land damp

with the dewdrops,

and the golden poplars

towards the river’s curve.

 

Behind the mountains of violet

the first dawn is breaking;

shotgun over his  back,

between angular greyhounds, walks a hunter. 

 

 As the title of the collection suggests, Machado is interested in evoking the landscapes of his native Spain. Man is entirely absent from the first two stanzas. It is only in the last two lines that a figure appears, the hunter with his gun and hounds. This is not to say that man is dwarfed by this landscape, or merely a picturesque detail within it . In fact, the appearance of the hunter seems as much as the dew and the breaking light to be a part of the actual dawning of autumn.

The poem is dedicated to the Cordoban painter, Julio Romero de Torres, and it does seem to evoke the dusky colours of  Torre’s paintings. Torres paintings mostly showed figures within landscapes, although the figures, were given more prominence than within Machado’s  poems and the landscapes markedly idealised. Some years after this poem was written, Torres painted ‘Diana’, which seems to incorporate several elements of the poem, although with several others more to the taste of the artist – a prominent semi-nude female figure in the foreground. It is the landscape in the background – a canvas, in fact-  which shares several elements of Amanencer de Otoño – the greyhounds, the poplars, the curve of a river. If any readers know more about the painting, and whether it does or doesn’t have anything to do with Machado’s poem, I’d be interested to know.

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