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Wanderer, there is no path

Everything goes and everything stays
but our fate is to pass
to pass making a path as we go,
paths over the sea,
I never pursued glory,
or to leave on the memory
of men, this song of mine:
I love the subtle worlds,
weightless and gentle
like soap bubbles.
I like to see them paint themselves
on sun and crimson,
fly under a blue sky, shudder
suddenly, and break...
Traveler , your footprints
are the path, and nothing else.
Traveler, there is no path.
A path is made by walking.
A path is made by walking,
and in looking back one sees
the trodden road that never
will be set foot on again.
Traveler, there is no path,
but wakes on the sea...
Some time ago on that place
where today the woods dress in brambles
the voice of a poet was heard shouting
¨Traveler, there is no path.
A path is made by walking".
Blow by blow, verse by verse...
The poet died far from home
and is covered by the dust of a neighbouring country.
As he went away, he could be heard crying,
"Traveler, there is no path.
A path is made by walking".
Blow by blow, verse by verse...
When the robin can no longer sing,
when the poet is a pilgrim,
when praying is no more of use.
Traveler, there is no path.
A path is made by walking.
Blow by blow, verse by verse
Original lyrics


Click to see the original lyrics (Spanish)

Fool EmeritusFool Emeritus
   Mon, 26/11/2012 - 18:51

Original lyrics found in the poem of the same name by Antonio Machado, who refers to his own exile after the Spanish Civil War in the figure of "the poet". As in the song itself, Machado died in exile at Coillure, France, in 1939.

ana.lop.9ana.lop.9    Tue, 25/06/2013 - 23:18

"I never wanted glory" I never pursued the glory

"Wanderer, your footprints, and nothing more, are the path." Traveler it's your footprints that make the path, and nothing more

"Wanderer, there is not path. We make the path by walking." Traveler, there is no path; the path is created as you (walk/go)

"when praying is no more of use." when praying becomes pointless

I really like your translation but in some areas the literal translation (english version) looses the effect it has in Spanish. Some hints ^^^

ana.lop.9ana.lop.9    Tue, 25/06/2013 - 23:22

The only reason I would use "traveler" instead of wanderer is because "wanderer gives off the sense that he is lost which would ultimately be an irony to the poem which is not there originally!

Fool EmeritusFool Emeritus
   Wed, 26/06/2013 - 06:51

Hi Ana, and thanks for your comments.

1. It's not correct to add an article to "glory" as a common name, unless you refer to a specific kind of glory ("I never wanted the glory of being the first man on the moon") or you refer specifically to the theological concept of Glory, in which case you should capitalize it. As for "want" or "pursue" it's a matter of interpretation. In my mind, it less to do with the active pursuit of glory as much as the fact that, as a man drawn deeply inwards, he does not even desire glory. Of course this is personal interpretation, and it doesn't mean yours is wrong, far from it.

2. It's a poosibility, but mine keeps the same crescent rhythm and pause structure of the original, so I like it better even if it's less synthactically correct.

3. Feels too convoluted to me, I tired to keep the sentences, like the feeling, simple and clean. Besides, the use of the passive makes it look like as though the path creates itself in front of the traveler or a an unnamed force does it when in fact it's the opposite. The traveler makes the path, not vice versa. It's the whole point of the poem.

4. As above, I really don't like the passive for this poem, it feels less intimate and/or involved (outisde here yes, I like my pasives well enough :P).

5. Precisely because of the sense that he is lost, "wanderer" makes sense on the poem. It talks about traversing unknown regions, regions where there are no paths, so you are forced to create them. A "traveler" does not really make paths, it follows them. It is by wandering off the beaten path that you actually "make a path" where there was none. I honestly fail to grasp the irony to the poem. Could you please ellaborate on that?

(No hostility meant, mind you. I'm really trying to understand your point)

mahr811mahr811    Fri, 19/07/2013 - 09:46

Hi Mario and Ana,

First, I want to say that I really liked your translation Mario. I'm writing back only because there should be a few more tweeks in the translation to make yours perfect. So please see my notes below. Sorry if they don't follow a consistent format - I'm writing this at 230am after being up and working since 630am yesterday. But I was so intrigued by your translation that I couldn't help but write back.

1. I agree with Ana, the more appropriate word in this poem is traveler - as in "humans travel the earth on foot". A traveler doesn't precisely indicate having a set path rather it indicates that the "walking" is with purpose whereas a wanderer does hint that there's no path or purpose - just "walking" or "roaming" around. This is not the case in this poem. You must also look at the entire sentence caminante and andar are related to each other. Therefore, he is telling the traveler of earth that as he/she walks (the definition of andar) the earth on foot he/she must make his/her own path as there is no one set path for everyone. It's like he is saying don't ask for directions to live your life, you must make your own way.

2. Also the word pursue is more appropriate - this is not a matter of him never wanting to go to paradise/heaven or never wanting to leave behind memories of song. He is saying that it was never his intention to earn heaven or leave behind a his legacy through song. He doesn't live the way he does seeking/chasing entrance to heaven. He doesn't write his song seeking/chasing mans attention. He lives and writes song because "he loves the delicate (not sublte because bubbles are better described as delicate rather then sublte) worlds, weightless and gentle like soap bubbles. Again, you must look at the entire sentence to find the true meaning and translation of it.

3. I think in this it should not be nothing more rather it should be nothing else. "Traveler the path are your footprints and nothing else." There shouldn't be a "WE" here since he never speaks in plural. He is the only one addressing the traveler. Also, it shouldn't be the word "CREATED" here rather it should be made. For example you make way, you make a path but you do not create way or create a path. "Traveler there is no path, the path is made as you walk."

4. Wanderer, there is no road, but streams on the sea. It should be "Traveler there is no path but wakes in the sea." You must continue to use the same word for camino (path) thoughout the entire poem just like for caminante (traveler). The definicion of estelas en el mar are wakes in the sea, not streams - boats/ships do not leave streams behind them as footprints, they leave wakes behind them.

5. We make the path by walking... Again, he doesn't speak in plural here and "se" is impersonal. Volver la vista atras is an idiom. "In walking a path is made, and in looking back the footpath is seen that should never be walked on again."

Have a goodnight.

Fool EmeritusFool Emeritus
   Tue, 01/10/2013 - 07:06

Your comments sound reasonable. Changed.

roster 31roster 31
   Wed, 01/10/2014 - 15:37

Muy bien, Mario. No lo había leído hasta que apareció esta nueva entrega. Bueno, "más vale tarde que nunca".
En mi opinión:
1. Tu comentario, "in the poem of the same name by Antonio Machado", me suena como si esta versión fuese la original y la de Machado, la segunda. Es "el poema de Machado".
2. Si quieres Mantener " the same crescent rhythm and pause structure of the original", yo lo aplicaría má strictamente a la estrofa y estrbillo que son de él. Por ejemplo: "By walking, one makes the path..."