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This review is taken from PN Review 41, Volume 11 Number 3, January - February 1985.

PASSAGEWAYS OF THE SOUL Times Alone: Selected Poems of Antonio Machado, Translated by Robert Bly (Wesleyan University Press) $18.95

A new book about one of Spain's foremost poets, Antonio Machado (1875-1939) cannot fail to encourage the hope that here is an analysis that will lead to fresh insights into his poetry and inspiration. Hope is fortified in Robert Bly's summary of the poet's strengths in the first paragraph of his introductory notes. His gifts, we are told, include

. . . quiet labor on sound and rhythm, his emphasis on the suffering of others rather than his own, the passageways that he creates inside his poems that lead back to the ancient Mediterranean past, his inner calm, his joyfulness . . .

Bly has divided his selection of Machado's poems into three chronological groups, with a few pages of introductory comment in front of each group. His approach is centred on the texts of the poems and the direct insight they give to Machado's philosophical interests and beliefs. Bly also quotes the introductory notes Machado wrote when 'Soledades' were republished in 1907, and his comments on Campos de Castilla (1912).

As a guide to the spiritual progress of the poet, and the way he was to bring philosophical questioning into the textual matter of his poetry, Bly's short introductions are concise and useful. There is no attempt, however, to appraise his ideas against the notions current among the poets of his day either in Spain or the rest of Europe. The lack of an index, therefore, is not ...

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