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The Final Journey (Juan Ramón Jiménez)

Uys Krige

Uys Krige

The translator

Uys Krige (1910-1987) is one of South-Africa’s most beloved poets. He was also a writer of novels and plays, a journalist and a translator. His mother-tongue was Afrikaans (South African Dutch), but he attended school during the time English and Dutch was the only official languages in our country. Afrikaans was at last accepted as official language in lieu of Dutch on 5 May 1925, when Krige was fifteen years old and almost ready for tertiary studies.

He lived in France and Spain from 1931-1935, where he learned to speak both languages fluently. During the Second World War as correspondent with the army of South Africa, he was captured and sent to Italy where he spent two years in prison. He managed to escape in September 1943 and returned to South Africa in 1946. He translated many works of Spanish and French poets in Afrikaans, which are truly appreciated by all of us who will never have the opportunity to learn those languages.

One of the translated poems of the Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez is, without doubt, my favorite, perhaps because I’ve read it for the first time when I needed it the most.


Halfway station

I was at the so-called halfway station of my life, when I reviewed my past objectively. I did not want my future to be an extension of what already proved itself as a tragedy. So I’ve decided to start a new life. Parting from my husband was easy; I was willing to leave him with everything we have gathered during our marriage of nineteen years, except, of course, our two children.


In farewell

Parting from our house and MY garden was almost impossible. Especially the garden I have created and maintained since we bought the property nine years before. Yes, it was MY garden, for he called it a waste of money and a resemblance of my ‘stooped’ mind. So for moral support I relied via Uys Krige’s translation on Juan Ramón Jiménez, who has mirrored my emotions perfectly in his poem ‘The Final Journey’.

I’ve translated the Afrikaans translation of the poem in English, knowing, just like Krige, that it will not reveal its original beauty. I believe, though, that the translation will crystallize in your own mind.

The Final Journey by Juan Ramón Jiménez

.... and I will go away.

And the birds will stay, singing

And my garden will stay

With its green tree

And white water well.


And every afternoon the sky will be blue and peaceful

And the pealing of bells will be like this afternoon’s

Peal of the bell of the high campanile.


They will die, all those who loved me

Scroll to Continue

And every year the town will be revived, again

And in my circle of green white-limed flowering garden

My spirit will dwell nostalgic from tree to well.


And I will go away

And I will be lonely without my home

And without my tree with its green foliage

Without my white water well

Without the blue peaceful sky

And the birds will stay


Soundtrack of the Final Journey in English and Afrikaans


The Poet

Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón (1881–1958) was a Spanish poet and writer who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1956. He was known as an advocate for the French concept of ‘pure poetry’. He studied law, but never practiced it. In 1900, at the age of eighteen, he published his first two books. The death of his father in the same year affected him in such a way that he was sent to France for medical treatment. After an affaire-de coeur with his doctor’s wife, he spent three years in a sanatorium staffed by novitiate nuns, where he was expelled because he wrote erotic poems depicting romps with the nuns.

Most of his poems were explicit eroticism, which was alien to the time. But he also wrote poems with music and color as subjects, and about death. By 1930 he was acknowledged as the master of the new generation of poets.

His most famous work was, perhaps, his series of prose poems of a young writer and his donkey, PLATERO Y YO (1914), regarded as one of the classics of modern Spanish literature.

In 1916 he got married to Zenobia Camprubi, who was the noted translator of the Indian writer, Ranindranath Tagore. Upon the outbreak of the civil war in Spain he and Zenobia lived in exile in the USA, where they eventually settled in Puerto Rico. Here he was once again hospitalized for eight months due to another deep depression.

He was Professor of Spanish Language and Literature at the University of Maryland before he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1956. Three days later Zenobia died of ovarian cancer. Jiménez was devastated and he died two years afterwards on 29 May 1958 at the age of seventy-six.

Some of Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón's famous quotes:

  • Life is indeed lovely!
  • Sharp nostalgia, infinite and terrible, for what I already possess!
  • Literature is a state of culture, poetry is a state of grace, before and after culture.
  • A permanent state of transition is man's most noble condition.
  • Transition is a complete present which unites the past and the future in a momentary progressive ecstasy, a progressive eternity, a true eternity of eternities, eternal moments.
  • Dynamic ecstasy is absolute romanticism, absolute heroism.

In conclusion

It is not easy to pick another ‘most favorite’ poem of Juan Ramón Jiménez, for all his poems pull the strings of my heart. Perhaps this one may expose his capability to love intensely until death parts him from the woman in his life.

Becoming Born Again (Juan Ramón Jiménez)

Becoming born again as a rock

I would still love you, woman.

Becoming born again as a cloud

I would still love you, woman.

Becoming born again as a wave

I would still love you, woman.

Becoming born again as a flame

I would still love you, woman.

Becoming born again as a man

I would still love you, woman.

References: Google search & Spaanse Dans (Uys Krige)


Chris Bounds on February 06, 2019:

"El Viaje Definitive" (The Definitive Journey) by Juan Ramone Jimenez.

I absolutely love this poem. I love the sadness, the longing for, the profundity.

I really don't think this poem is so much about a physical death but more so about a spiritual awakening which can cause a sudden and very melancholy state of mind. Once an awakening takes place as Jimenez is writing about, it's as if your whole world that you have always known and trusted has just fallen away and everyone in your life has become like a phantom. There is much more to this in "Journey to Ixtlan" by Carlos Castenada.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on June 22, 2013:

Docmo – Thanks for discovering this in my ‘archives’. You know I want this poem to be recited on my funeral.... and I’ve done a soundtrack of it.... Forgot to include this in the hub -

Mohan Kumar from UK on June 21, 2013:

Ah.. a beautiful hub about a beautiful poem, Dear Martie. I haven't heard of this poet or the poem before so thank you so much for introducing me to such meaningful words and a memorable Journey.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on March 14, 2012:

banshad, I can also not find any of his Spanish poems.Perhaps you can find something on Amazon. I love his poems - have an entire anthology of him - all translated to my language. Good luck with your search... :)

bamshad on March 13, 2012:

Thanks, I surfed that before, but there is no Spanish edition, just the translations are exists! True?

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on March 13, 2012:

Hi Bamshad - try this one -

Bamshad on March 13, 2012:

Dear Mates,

Is there any website which I can find the poems of Juan Ramón Jiménez in english and spanish?



Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 18, 2011:

leabeth – The original ‘Final Journey’ is a Spanish poem, translated by Uys Krige in Afrikaans – I translated it in English for HubPages. You will love the Afrikaans version. I want it to be read at my funeral.... one day. I will mail it to you. Wow, twenty-one-years! Time surely flies. Yes, there are so many ‘would/could have beens’ to ponder over. I tend to regret the things I did NOT do more than the things I did do. Thanks for the visit, leabeth. It is wonderful to see you in my corner. Sien jou weer!

leabeth on January 18, 2011:

I loved your poem, it also made me cry. I have been divorced from my first husband 30 years and are remarried now for 21 years but catch myself sometimes also thinking what could have been. Never had the feeling of how it would have been to have brought my children up together with their own father who by the way were not really interested in them when they were small. Your poem describe the feelings I experienced after my divorce so precise.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 15, 2010:

Amy Becherer – I agree wholeheartedly with you – plants do cry and beg for water. I can’t bear to see a plant dying because it is neglected by a human being, or even when it is mutilated by a naughty child or puppy. Only the cruel and ignorant can kill plants. So sad you were not able to take those plants with you. Amy, I wish you all the strength and determination you need to get yourself settled in the new phase of your life. Rather be alone than with a man who kills your spirit. If you ever get the time, read my novelette – The day Jo mutilated my children – I still have to give it another title, because I never finished the last chapter which would have revealed the meaning of the title. Just so you know how serious I am when I say it is better to be all alone and lonely than with a man, or any person, who makes you feel bad and sad. Go for the good and the uplifting, peace and joy, and don’t waste a day spending in the presence of bad and ugly. We have to choose, every day, between good and bad. Lots of hugs for you!

Amy Becherer from St. Louis, MO on December 15, 2010:

I, too, recently got divorced for the second time. I took care of the yard and gardens. It broke my heart when I went back to get my mail and saw everything sad. To me, life is life and I could hear the flowers crying. I fear that the cold weather here now will take the potted Hawaiian flower given to me by a friend, and the lemon tree my mother started from seed. The potted peace lily given to me at my father's death, died from neglect in the basement. I cried when I saw it. I nursed my plants like babies. I can see how the "The Final Journey" was so relevant to you; I love "Becoming Born Again" because it speaks to the trueness of real love, no agenda, just true, undying love. So, circumstances determine what we find relevant. I loved this hub and your love for the art of poetic expression. It is beautiful.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 05, 2010:

Micky Dee – yes, I’ve recognized our common interest, inter alia in bare nature and daily ordinary happenings, a long time ago. Your camera is just better than mine. Lol! And I love your soul too, my dear friend. Take good care of yourself, for you enrich the souls of many.

Micky Dee on December 05, 2010:

Wonderfully awesome Martie. I do love your soul my Dear. We have a bit in common. God bless!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 05, 2010:

pennyofheaven – I’m glad you enjoyed it, and welcome in my corner.

pennyofheaven from New Zealand on December 05, 2010:

Beautiful hub thanks!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on November 15, 2010:

Nellieanna – Now that I see this again – perhaps it is time to do another one like this. I have quite a few favorite poems which mean a lot to me in certain stages of my life.

Thank you, my friend, for taking the time to seek my light and not my darkness :))) I do have a dark side – but according to my friends it is not like a cave filled with dangerous insects and animals, but merely like an empty grave – The one who falls in it have a choice. He can die in it, or jump out and run away.

Please come back for this one. I am sure you will like the detail.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on November 15, 2010:

Lovely - and I wil return and read it more deeply. At this moment, I have been seeking your light - and keep finding it shining all about! I will return here though - this needs more concentration and I've no doubt deserves it! Hugs. Also - by re-reading the comments here might bring you a sense of peace and closure of other current agitations. Think so?

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on September 12, 2010:

SilentReed – Indeed, poetry does not talk to the brain, but to the heart. Thanks for you visit and comment.

SilentReed from Philippines on September 12, 2010:

One never seem to have enough. How beautiful is poetry. with short and concise words and phrases, it seize and overwhelms us with such intensity that our feelings grasp and understands before our logical mind can even begin to comprehend.Thank you for sharing.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on August 22, 2010:

Tony, skryf gerus jou hub. Ek wil nie graag fokus op die idee dat Afrikaans gaan uitsterf nie - ek huil my 'wragtag' morsdood as dit gebeur! Ek beplan 'n hub oor Eugene Marais. Maar die hemel weet my tyd is so beperk met dié dat ek van 8:00-15:00 werk, en die lees van hubs en lewering van kommentare is so lekker ek kan net nie ophou daarmee en begin skryf nie. So nice to 'speak' Afrikaans on HubPages. Hope we don't get banned! Have a wonderful creative week, my friend!

Tony McGregor from South Africa on August 22, 2010:

Hi again, Martie! I am preparing a Hub on Afrikaans na aanleiding van Breyten se opmerking dat Afrikaans as taal uitsterf. Maar as jy self een wil skryf, dan sal ek dit met graagte lees! Die taal is seker ryk genoeg vir meer as een Hub daaroor, of hoe? En ek is beslis nie 'n kenner nie. Ek hou net daarvan!

Love and peace


Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on August 10, 2010:

Habee - especially when it displays your own feelings, hey? Thanks for the visit!

Holle Abee from Georgia on August 10, 2010:

It's amazing how much a beautiful poem can move us and inspire us! Thumbs up!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on August 09, 2010:

StoryTRS - You've just given me an idea. I wonder if Tony or someone else wrote a hub about Afrikaans yet? Have to check. Thanks for your inspiring comment!

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on August 09, 2010:

Martie, I loved these poems. They go to the heart of me. I have not known what Afrikaans is nor really wondered until now. Thanks for raising my consciousness on many levels.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on August 04, 2010:

Pearldriver – Thank you so much for your encouraging comment and for your much appreciated fan mail. You got me in the mood to try haiku. First I have to study the genre. So I’ll be visiting your hubs quite often now.

Rob Welsh from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time. on August 04, 2010:

Martie - Thank you for a glimpse of the good taste that you clearly have. And I feel so proud that you would take my haiku and let it also become familiar with such works like these that you collect. This poetry is so very touching... thank you most genuinely for sharing such powerful words.

I must say that to follow such a map in your quest to find yourself... you will have so few steps to take.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on August 03, 2010:

Katiem2, I know that wonderful feeling of relief – when you read your own emotions in the writings of others. We tend to think that nobody knows our pain; we are the only person in the world suffering what we suffer. In the meanwhile, I guess, everybody gets a turn to suffer all the pains in stock for humans, of course in different situations an perhaps not all on the same level of intensity. Thanks for reading, my friend. Oh, I was for ten years after the divorce in a horrible state of depression, but I sorted myself out by writing short stories for magazines instead of lying awake at nights, feeling sorry for myself.

Katie McMurray from Ohio on August 03, 2010:

What an impressive and highly related read, I love your garden its beautiful and hope you have a new one. I love what you said about committed suicide in my heart, very profound words that I myself experienced in my own divorce. I felt that way but never could put it to words. Oh I have the words now, borrowed by you. I send you the most positive of energy to encourage the rest of your life to be filled with splendor and bliss. I love the poems and found comfort and understanding in them! Peace :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on August 02, 2010:

Hi Tony! Now why did I completely forget about Dutch? You are right – Afrikaans replaced Dutch as one of the two official languages on 5 May 1925. Krige’s school years were about 1917-1931 (including university). As far as I know there were no/little teacher’s recourses in Afrikaans until the NP came into power in 1948. Handbooks were mostly in English and Dutch. But to be honest, I have forgotten the facts. Just remember the stories – the struggle to get Afrikaans acknowledged. I’ve got a book somewhere in my library, written by Hennie Aucamp in tribute of Krige – have to get it out just to confirm how Krige mastered English in his childhood, then I’ll change that sentence. Or perhaps I should just cut it. Oh boy! Let me sleep on this, for I should edit that sentence a.s.a.p.

Tony McGregor from South Africa on August 02, 2010:

I love Uys Krige and his book Sol y Sombra, and others, of course. And that he was a supporter of Ingrid Jonker, who is absolutely my favourite Afrikaans poet.

Just a question about the official languages - in the South Africa Act of 1909 English and Dutch were made the official languages of South Africa and that was later changed (in about 1927, I think - must check) to English and Afrikaans, so I'm not sure when English was the only official language? Are you maybe referring to the Cape Colony prior to 1910?

Anyway - a beautiful Hub and thanks for your lovely translations.

Love and peace


Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on August 02, 2010:

@De Greek – In my earnest efforts to answer your question, I read one of your hubs in order to analise your personality. I'm sorry to say I could not find a reason why you should learn Spanish, nor why you cried. But between us (fighting back my tears), your display of emotional depth touched my heart. :-))

De Greek from UK on August 02, 2010:

Now why did the first poem made me want to learn Spanish why did the second made me cry?

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on August 01, 2010:

Just a Voice - Thanks for understanding. Yes, I did create another beautiful garden - after a couple of years dwelling in the desert on my way to the 'promise' land. (In many ways I identify with the Israelites :))

Just A Voice on August 01, 2010:

I was touched by that first poem from Juan Ramon Jimenez...even in English.

Sometimes it is so hard to walk away from something we have worked so hard at, even if we know it is the right thing to do...the only thing to do.

But I can't help but think what a beautiful garden you will create now.

May this garden be filled with peace.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on August 01, 2010:

Hi sarmack – you know him? If you can find some English poems of him, will you please e-mail them to me?

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on August 01, 2010:

Saddlerider – thank you for your heart-warming comment. Looking back I know it was the best decision I have ever made in my life, though I am still, when I allow myself, mourning the ‘what-should/could-have-beens’. The pictures are of my current garden – I have ‘coppy-cat’ some of the corners of my previous garden. Oh, and my heart breaks when I pass that garden and see how it is dying because nobody takes care of it. Fortunately I don’t have to pass it every day. Yes, poems (and Bible scriptures and philosophical quotes) are my crutches in Life. I like your description of a marriage falling apart. So sad! Nobody marries with the intention to get divorced. But as you said, life goes on and compensates our losses.

alternate poet - Thank you, sir. I’m so glad you have found this hub beautiful. I was quite nervous – for it is so easy for others to judge and condemn partly or fully exposed souls.

Sarah from Washington State on August 01, 2010:

Mr Jiménez's poetry is beautiful. He was very insightful.

alternate poet on August 01, 2010:

what a beautiful hub - thanks for sharing your self.

saddlerider1 on August 01, 2010:

I am so happy for you that comfort was truly found while you went through the tragedy of a marriage falling apart like angry ocean waves crashing on the rocks before them.

I to lost a marriage of 18 years and I truly believe the loss stays with us for a lifetime. However my life goes on and we all do and make the best of it that we can.

You found your solace in this beautiful poem The Final Journey by Juan Ramón Jiménez which kept your sanity and gave you peace and tranquility of mind. We all find a way and our spirit gets quenched mysteriously by invisible hands reaching to us just like angels.I am happy that this poem helped you through does dark moments in your life.

I can see why you had difficulty letting go of your garden it is beautiful. Peace and hugs.

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