Last night, as I was sleeping (Machado)

Introduction from Alison:

Spanish poet Antonio Machado lost his beloved wife at a young age and went into a state of deep grief. When he finally began to recover from this loss, he wrote this beautiful poem about the re-birth of his soul and his heart.

I have witnessed this re-birth in people who have gone through divorce, which is why I share this with you. I hope it will give you hope and strength during those dark nights of the soul. (My thanks to speaker/poet David Whyte for introducing me to this poem.)

One note about the translation of this poem from Spanish to English: Some think the translation of “marvelous error” in the poem should actually be “marvelous vision” or “blessed illusion.” I would agree with this.

Last night, as I was sleeping

by Antonio Machado (1875 – 1939)

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.

from Times Alone: Selected Poems of Antonio Machado
translated by Robert Bly

If you liked this poem, you may also like The Journey by Mary Oliver.

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