My version of the "Retrato" with which Antonio Machado introduces himself in Campos de Castilla (1912, revised 1917.) At this point, trying to translate him is a lunatic venture. This poem rhymes abab, but you'll just have to imagine that part: no way am I trying to do that in English.
My childhood is memories of a patio in Seville,
and a bright garden where the lemon tree grows;
my youth, twenty years on the land of Castile;
my history, a few events I don’t care to recall.
I was not a Don Juan or a Casanova
(you know my sartorial attainments!)
but I duly received Cupid’s arrow,
and where I found a welcome, I loved.
There are drops of Jacobin blood in my veins,
but my verse flows from a serene spring;
I’m not a man who lives by a catechism,
but (in the good sense of the word) I am good.
I love what’s beautiful, and in the modern vein
I’ve cut old roses in the garden of Ronsard:
but I don’t love the current stylists’ “product”;
I’m not one who warbles with the new flock of birds.
Not for me, the romances of hollow tenors;
the chorus of crickets who sing to the moon.
I pause to tell voices from echoes,
and among the many voices, I listen to one.
Am I a Classic or a Romantic? I don’t know. I would leave
my verse as a commander leaves his sword:
known for the strong hand that wielded it --
not for the metallurgical lore of its forger.
I talk with the man who always goes with me
(the person who talks to himself hopes someday to talk to God):
my soliloquy is a heart-to-heart with this good friend
who taught me the trick of philanthropy.
And in the end, I owe you nothing. You owe me what I’ve written.
I go to my work. With my money I pay
for the suit that I wear and the house I inhabit,
the bread that feeds me and the bed where I lie.
And when the day of the last voyage arrives,
and the ship that never returns is ready to leave,
you’ll find me already aboard, traveling light;
half naked, like the sons of the sea.