Words of WonderI-am-not-I-Juan-Ramon-Jimenez

I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
the one who remains silent while I talk,
the one who forgives, sweet, when I hate,
the one who takes a walk when I am indoors,
the one who will remain standing when I die.

by Juan Ramón Jiménez


The Spanish Juan Ramón Jiménez lived a turbulent life if you are to believe what is summarised here, during which he wrote prolifically and received the Nobel prize for his poetry two years before his death in 1958. I wonder what led to his writing of these words, and whether his awareness of this ‘I’ who would remain standing when he died was a fleeting one or an abiding experience…

For myself, the poem feels like a reminder to not get too caught up in whatever I’m doing or believing, and to tune into what Annie Lighthart called ‘the second music‘. That slight shift in perspective that can make such a difference in how any given moment is experienced, making it wider, more poignant and more alive than the mono-experience of the autopilot and doing-mode. The poem reads almost like a koan: who is that one? Unanswerable perhaps, but a fruitful reflection nonetheless… thank you Juan!


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

If you’d like to read more poems by this author, why not check out their selected poems, translated by Robert Bly here.