Walker, there is no road, the road is made by walking.
Antonio Machado (1875-1939) Spanish poet
as translated by Willis Barnstone
“This holds an enormous sense of possibility which is a great antidote to despair. The road is made by walking means that at any moment all you have to do is shift the direction of your feet and you pivot into a new world. In the first line, Walker, there is no road, holds something also very important to me which is uncertainty, indeterminacy, not knowing, and the fact of how provisional our ideas of the world always are. There is no preset path; there is no preset outcome. The combination of these two lines in the poem recognizes the provisionality and the granting of authorship and agency that you make your road by walking. You create your life by walking, even though there is nothing to create—no self to rely on. There is both: completely standable ground and you are on the groundless. The poem isn’t very long. At the end of it, it says there’s no road—it’s all like foam on the top of the sea. For me, it’s a marriage of not relying on anything as being fixed and yet you can do something in this world by every step you take.”
Jane Hirshfield, Poet and author of
The Asking: New and Selected Poems