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 16, 2011

Oh hill of light! (Oh colina de luz!)

Today is the day before my Dad would have turned 80 and I feel selfish and I feel sad and I feel empty because I realise I never understood the sadness that wrapped around his joyful and strong persona.  I wish I could ask him: “What is it Dad?”, “What pains you?”, “How can I help?”  but I can’t know.  I am so sorry.  All I can do is to continue spreading his beautiful words into my world and make it his and let him see all of it, and share with him who I am and who I’ve become and who I wish I could be. This is a poem from my Dad’s book Twilight Theory (Teoría del crepúsculo).  One day before his 80th birthday.  I love you Dad, I miss you.

Oh hill of light! (Oh colina de luz!)

My steps travelled through a long and tenebrous road.
Now, from the hill of light where I find myself
strong, forever safe, my eyes are amazed.

An abyss called me from each side and from the depth
foul smells ascended and wrapped around me mistaken with
the grey night mist and the
dark and freezing days.

There are no other words to say “I am sad”,
“it hurts to live”, “I have lost hope”,
“my dreams are dead”, “this anxiety will kill me”.
There is no other language.  These words summarise the story
of a man who seeks with anticipation and watches over the secret
of the defeats of his alienated heart.

There was no sign of a course to follow or guiding stars.
To repeat and repeat some of the same old signs,
the same complaint, the infertile and persistent mention
of what is lost, to recount the days that have passed,
now irrecoverable, to return via a blind tunnel
searching for the fugitive time, that hurricane that throws us
into eternity.

To continue saying the same old worn out words
“I am sad”, “my dreams are dead”, “this anxiety will kill me”
or to shut oneself away in a circle of silence
and of doubt and to raise a wall that stops feeling the joy
of the friend who does not know how to cry with our eyes
or to sit by a door to wait for a tram with no itinerary.  

Familiar roads and words and tram have passed
and in their grit and their sounds and their rails
a blistering and energising sun gives light that invigorates one’s being.

I have learnt many things: I now know how to say
“love”, “joy”, “pleasure” and I practise melancholy
like a daily exercise, diffused in
the beautiful summers in Earth.

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