Why do this?

My father, José Luis Villamizar Melo, passed away in my home town of Cúcuta, Colombia, in August last year. The law and economics were Dad's profession, but literature, history and academia his passion. He wrote and published several books, articles and book chapters. The thing is that so many people have missed out on his work, particularly on his beautiful poetry, which he wrote in Spanish prior to the world wide web. So I thought, what a better way to keep Dad's legacy alive than to bring his writing beyond his world and share it with mine. That is why I am translating over 250 of my Dad's poems to English and publishing them here, one a day, Monday to Friday during 2011 (Dad, a family man, always believed that you shouldn't work on weekends).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Memorandum for the grandchildren (Memorando para los nietos)

Wednesday 02 February 2011
Brace yourselves for a long one.  I’m not a hundred percent sure but I think Dad wrote this poem when my sister Roci was pregnant with my first nephew, his first grandson, René Francisco.  Tonight I decided to translate ‘Memorandum for the grandchildren’, from Dad’s book Twilight Theory (Teoría del crepúsculo), on the occasion of my sister Roci’s 47th (?) birthday.  Happy birthday sis, I love you, and I can remember how happy Dad was when he heard you were going to make him a grandfather for the first time, 27 or 28 year ago?
Memorandum for the grandchildren (Memorando para los nietos)
Grandpa ponders and lectures
just like all grandfathers in the World.
My grandchildren will have to
believe in justice and the law,
love and exercise freedom
with vigour and passion,
nurture the beauty
that shines within creation
which belongs to man,
and profess love
which is the secret
to find the path that leads
to the summit of the Universe,
and work…work, my children,
with healthy ambition and determination.
Grandpa foresees
in the grandchildren’s expressions
the traits of his lineage,
the footprint of the dreams
that filled the itinerary
of his world and his time.
He wants to discover in their eyes
the light that his eyes did not see
and show them a horizon
of firm ground and clear sky
that although distant it will be attainable
with noble urge and hard work.
That even if life is generous to them
they distinguish suffering
and share the cold, poverty, hunger
with the stranger and
with their confidants.
I do not ask for much
of my beloved grandchildren,
nothing extraordinary:
after all there was nothing extraordinary
about their grandfather.
My grandchildren will be honourable men,
with strong souls and wise,
with enough wisdom
to understand the World
and overcome it.
For them I ask life
the gift of friendship
to join them
and make them one
solidary heart.
That in their father each grandchild
see themselves like the moon of a mirror
and that from their mother they learn humanity
and the value of dreaming quietly.
That in the hierarchies of love
they be the first.
And when
they start to share
adolescent dreams
and incipient disillusions,
I want them to think about this words,
keepsake of their
old and tired
who in the pupils of his grandchildren
used to read the reward of his years.

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