How We Make the Road


So a while back I came across a few lines from the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, used them for an epigraph for a chapter in my theology thesis and then, as one does, forgot all about him. Then a few days ago, I was digging around on my desk and found another line I had written down and then presumably used as a bookmark until it worked itself loose and found me again, which I wrote about a few days ago. That made me look into him further and I found this bit of a poem.


Wanderer, your footsteps are

the road and nothing more;

wanderer, there is no road,

the road is made by walking.

Walking makes the road,

and turning to look behind

you see the path that you

will never tread again.

Wanderer, there is no road,

only foam trails on the sea.


Given that every writer of application essays EVER tends to use The Journey as their Metaphor of Choice (this is a professional opinion), I rather like the idea that there is no road, only the walking. And this guy Machado reminds me less of other Spanish poets like Lorca than of the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard for some reason.

And this is a bit odd, because Bachelard says, “What a dynamic, handsome object is a path! How precise the familiar hill paths remain for our muscular consciousness! “Oh, my roads and their cadence.” I don’t know what it means, but I like it.

Bachelard, Gaston. probably The Poetics of Space.

Machado, Antonio. “Proverbios y cantares.” Campos de Castilla, 1912.


5 comments on “How We Make the Road

  1. PJS says:

    Funny that you’re posting today about finding, a few days ago, the line from Machado after all that time. Today I was clearing out some folders of old teaching materials from that top shelf in our office, and I came across several chapters of “By Other Means.” It was a lovely surprise to come across them again. You should resume work on it — it’s good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. PJS says:

    Or maybe the title of that part was “The Watchmaker’s Lament.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The name kept changing. I dropped it after my bro and his wife read the first hundred or so pages last summer and couldn’t keep up with all two dozen or so p.o.v. characters… How is that connected to Machado?


  4. PJS says:

    You’d said that the paper with the Machado line fell out of a book. The pages of your novel fell out from between two folders of old teaching materials. I was transported back to pre-WWI Belgium.

    Liked by 1 person

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