Machado's overriding theme is the exploration of his personal spirit and that of the Castilian people through landscape. The landscape can also reflect and inner psychology. It is clear from the title of this collection the importance of the Spanish landscape.
The National character relates to the Spain that exists in so much as it is able to be seen and touched. The very word `campos' in the volumes title is suggestive of this aspect of Machado's approach, since it calls to mind an existant, geographical feature to which one is able to relate. The entire work abounds with sensuous description and evocation of the geography and landscape of Spain created by the frequent employment of adjectives, most notably the use of sensory adjectives of sight, smell and touch. This is demonstrated in the opening verse from `Campos de Soria' (CXIII):
`Es la tierra de Soria árida y fría.
Por las Colinas y las sierras calvas,
Verdes pradillos, ceros cenicientos,
La primavera pasa
Dejando entre las hierbas olorosas
Sus duminutas margaritas blancas.'
This places the reader in recognisable landscape which is brought to life and to some extent made clearer to us by the use of powerful, though by no means overly literary adjectives. Machado is concerned with presenting a picture of the Spanish landscape which is both recognisable and powerful in evoking the simple joys which it represents. Furthermore, Machado relies on what Arthur Terry describes as an `interplay between reality and meditation' in his description of landscape. The existence of reality in the text is created by the use of geographical terms and the use of real names and places such as SOrai and the Duero, while the meditation is found in what such places represent or the emotions they evoke. This can be seen in `Recuerdos' (CXVI) when, looking over the Soria countryside, he thinks not simply of what he sees, but also what they demonstrate. He says:
`Y pienso: Primavera, como un escalofrío
irá a cruzar el alto solar del romancero,
ya verdearán de chopos la márgenes del río.'
He does not see spring acting, but rather is able to deduce its presence and effects from the things which he can see.
These evocations of the National character undoubtedly contributes to the romantic approach of Machado's work too, helping to present for optimism, though not necessarily optimism itself. Machado's attitude often moves between despair and temporary hope, very much in keeping with the mood of disillusionment around in Spain at the time he was writing, caused by the loss of Cuba, Spain's last colony, in 1898. The present poverty is contrasted with the past glory, but the very existence of such past glory allows for both pride and hope that it could be restored. Machado makes an effort to demonstrate the potential glory which is attainable once more for Spain. He states that:
`Mi corazón aguarda