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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger
This is my favorite poem by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado. Actually, it's one of my favorite poems, period.
It speaks so richly for itself that no commentary is necessary to be caught in its spell, but I want to point out how strongly it suggests the mystic's ecstatic experience...
In the poem, Machado discovers continual delights in his heart. In the ecstatic state, the heart seems to expand, filling with a joy that encompasses everything.
The spring "breaking out" in his heart, running along a "secret aqueduct," bringing "water of new life" -- this is often part of sacred ecstasy. Mystics often experience a sensation of drinking some unknown liquid that warms the heart and fills you with a sense of life you hadn't known before.
This "drink" is perceived as being sweet, eliciting comparisons to honey or wine. Thus, Machado discovers "white combs / and sweet honey" in his heart.
In such overwhelming delight you feel radically whole. All past guilts and "failures" seem somehow resolved, transformed into the very matter that this joy is built upon.
In this blissful state, you are also filled with an awareness of light and a great warmth that permeates your whole body, like a "fiery sun."
Indeed, caught up in this experience, how can you doubt that it is God you have inside your heart?
A note about that phrase "marvelous error" which has some people confused. I think Bly's translation of that line is misleading. Machado's actual line in Spanish is "bendita ilusión." A more exact translation might be "blessed illusion or dream." When I read that, I don't hear Machado calling this experience an "error"; it's more of a vision...
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2002 - 2011 by Ivan M. Granger.
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