Alfredo Valenzuela I Seville, (EFE).- The professor at the University of Seville Enrique Baltanás, poet and writer, has published the biography “Antonio Machado, poet of all Spains” (Rialp) and has told EFE that he has resorted to that title to emphasize that the Sevillian poet “is not from just one Spain, but from all of them”.
“The left has appropriated it and believes that no one else has the right to admire or cite it, but Dionisio Ridruejo already published his ‘Complete Works’ in 1940, the poet received multiple tributes in regime magazines and even Manuel Fraga inaugurated the ‘Parador Antonio Machado’ in Soria”, pointed out Baltanás, also author of the study “The Machados, a family and two centuries of Spanish culture”.
After regretting that “at this point he continues to be used politically”, Baltanás has assured that Antonio Machado, without a doubt, was a Republican, but “of a rather platonic and idealized republicanism” and that, according to some testimony, “he also missed to the king”, while of his verse “si mi pena valiera tu pistola”, dedicated to the communist general Enrique Líster, he has indicated that it has the same value as “political poetry” as the sonnet that his brother Manuel dedicated to the general’s smile Frank.
The Segovia rally
Baltanás, who closes his biography with the appendix “Antonio Machado and politics”, tells how at the beginning of the Civil War the poet was arrested by some Republican militiamen and spent a night in a Czech, and mentions that he only joined one party, Republican Left, that of Manuel Azaña, “as late as March 30, 1937.”
However, the biographer reports, “it is strange that in a letter dated November 19, 1938 to the Argentine communist María Luisa Carnelli, he said: ‘I have no party affiliation, I have never had it, I aspire never to have it’ ”, while in a letter to Pilar Valderrama, “in her own handwriting”, she says: “You are right, my God, when you tell me that the Republic -so desired! I confess to having sincerely desired it- has let us down a bit”.
In the most notable political act in which Machado intervened “in times of political ferment” it was in Segovia at a rally of the recently founded Agrupación al Servicio de la República in which he presented its three most prominent founders, Ortega y Gasset, Marañón and Pérez de Ayala, an occasion in which he said: “The revolution is not going crazy and building barricades; it is something less violent but more serious. Broken the evolutionary continuity of our history, it is only possible to jump towards tomorrow. For this, the competition of creative mentalities is required, because, if not, the revolution is a catastrophe.”
Neither lay saint nor hero
The appendix to Baltanás’s biography begins by saying that “unlike his brother Manuel, who is just a poet, although, yes, an immense poet, he is an icon, a symbol, a flag and a barricade, today, of the left”, and adds that “this appropriation of Machado reaches a cartoonish point when he tries to monopolize his own tomb in Collioure as well”.
The biographer also points out, a few pages later, that Dionisio Ridruejo was reproached for “trying to bring water to his mill” and for “using Machado in favor of the political regime he was defending at the time, but let those who have kidnapped say this.” Don Antonio for the good and benefit of his political faction, and they have used him ad nauseam, as an excuse for their acts of propaganda and agitation, it is nothing but a sad irony”.
In his conclusions, the biographer affirms that Machado was neither a secular saint nor a hero, but rather, he writes, “he was simply a great poet and… a man, with his greatness and his miseries. It must be noted that, among the latter, there was never the one to harm anyone (…) Perhaps, after all, it was not Machado but another victim of the Civil War”. EFE